Health officials and scientists are closely watching a new mutation in the coronavirus amid concerns that it may be more transmissible than the original strain.
A delta subtype of the virus, called AY.4.2, has been detected in dozens of countries, with the vast majority of cases reported in the UK.
“An increase in AY. The order of applications has been taken into account since July,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in this week’s Weekly Epidemiological Update.
She said 93 per cent of AY 4.2.2 cases were reported in the UK, with the strain gradually contributing to a higher proportion of cases and representing about 5.9 per cent of all delta cases reported there during the week of October 3. .
The UN health agency added that “epidemiological and laboratory studies are underway” to assess whether there is a change in transmissibility or a decrease in the effect of antibodies to ward off the virus.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) last week described AY.4.2 as a “variable under investigation”, but despite its prevalence, it has not been classified as a “variable of concern”.
Here’s what we know so far:
What is the new AY.4.2 strain?
The subvariable is an evolution of the highly contagious delta variant of MERS-CoV. Scientists have discovered three mutations, including two in the prickly protein, a part of the virus that allows it to attach to and invade the body’s cells.
According to the WHO epidemiologist, the new species has been found in at least 42 countries, including the United Kingdom, India, Israel, the United States and Russia.
The sub-variable, which some have called “Delta Plus,” contains changes that could bring the virus’s survival advantages over other variants.
Previously, variants caused new spikes in coronavirus cases. The alpha variant spread widely after its discovery in the UK in late 2020, and the delta variant has become the dominant strain of the virus worldwide since its discovery in India in late 2020.
However, experts note that the AY.4.2 strain has not become the dominant species in the countries where it has been reported.
Dr. said. Roslyn Lemos Martin, PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Oxford at Al Jazeera.
She added: “It is possible that we will see a similar situation for the lambda strain … at first people were worried, but eventually it was relaxed in places like the US or the UK.”
Experts also noted that similar mutations were seen in other variants and other lines of the delta variant, without having a significant effect on the virus.
The delta variant remains “the most common in terms of global distribution,” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove told the plenary in early October.
“Delta is dominant, but delta is evolving,” she said, adding that the more the virus spreads, the more likely it is to mutate.
Is AY.4.2 more portable than Delta?
Doctor. Patrick Tang, head of pathology at Sidra Medicine in Qatar, told Al Jazeera that it was still not clear “whether it is more transmissible or more able to evade immunity through vaccination.”
“We don’t have enough data to indicate one way or the other.”
Experts have warned that the spread of the variant may be due to a number of factors, including public health measures taken by governments or compliance with such measures.
“Small changes in the virus never cause an increase in its transmission. He added that an increase in transmission … is actually an indicator of a public health response or adherence to public health measures.
According to Lemus-Martin, it is not clear whether the spread in the UK is due to biological causes or whether it is linked to “British epidemiological conditions”.
She added: “In the UK, the current measures against COVID-19 are very lax, they are not followed up in practice and we don’t know if this is the cause of the spread.”
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