Delta plus variant of the COVID-19 virus raises fresh concerns

Oct 21, 2021: A new mutation of the corona virus, called “Delta Plus”, has been discovered, raising serious concerns about its spread and mortality in countries around the world.

Known as AY.4.2, this variant of the original Delta was identified by lab tests in July this year. Since then, health officials in England have been monitoring the mutation for more information.

In a press release issued on 15 October, the UK’s Health Security Agency stated that 10 out of all systemic infections in the country are of this subtype. The agency added that AY.4.2 is “expanding in England”.

The original Delta variant was first discovered in India, and in May the World Health Organization called it a “type of concern.” To date, it is the most influential in the world.

Scientists say it is too early to predict if the mutation poses a higher risk than its ancestor.

Professor Balloux and Jeffrey Barrett, who is the director of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge, told the Financial Times that as per initial analysis the new Delta variant is 10% to 15% more transmissible.

However, Professor Balloux added that at this point this was not a cause of concern.

“This is not a situation comparable to the emergence of alpha and delta that were far more transmissible (50% ) than any strain in circulation at the time.”

While, Prof Francois Balloux, director of University College London’s Genetics Institute, told the BBC that scientists right now have a “wait and see” and “don’t panic” policy.

In Russia meanwhile, it is possible that the AY.4.2 variant will spread widely, RIA quoted the state consumer watchdog’s senior researcher Kamil Khafizov as saying.

That could cause the rate of new Covid-19 cases, already at record highs in Russia, to rise even further.

He said the new variety could eventually replace the Delta, although the process is likely to be slow.

President Vladimir Putin approved a government proposal to close a week-long workplace in early November this week, after the death toll from the corona virus across Russia in the past 24 hours rose to 1,028 a day on Wednesday. A record 34,073 new infections were reported.

The UK Health Security Agency said last week that a sub variant known as Delta Plus, designated as AY.4.2 in the UK, appeared in 6% of all cases generated but was not yet a variant of concern.

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