New Corona Delta Variant AY.4.2 – Is it a cause for concern?


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GERMAN RKI confirms NEW delta variant – The coronavirus is constantly changing – the so-called delta variant is currently predominant

A new form of the delta variant of the coronavirus is currently spreading in Europe. The sub-variant AY.4.2 was first found in Great Britain, and the variant has already been found in Germany. Cases have also been reported from Israel, Russia, Denmark and the USA.

Variant AY.4.2

Increased transmission

AY.4.2 is currently being observed, according to a report by the UK health authority dated October 15. The subline is currently increasing in frequency. In the last week of September, their share made up about six percent of all sequenced samples.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) stated that sub-variant AY.4.2 had been discovered in around 280 sequences since mid-July. Since then, the proportion of the variant in all genome sequences examined in Germany has been between 0 and 0.5 percent.

How contagious is the new Corona variant?

The currently prevailing delta variant spread around 60 percent faster than the alpha variant that was dominant at the time, and the alpha variant had spread 50 percent faster than its predecessor. How does AY.4.2 compare?

► A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the government was also observing the AY.4.2 variant “very closely”. It is still unclear whether the new subspecies will spread faster.

► The biologist François Balloux, director of the Institute of Genetics at University College London, told the AFP news agency that the new sub-variant is rare and does not appear to be as contagious as other subspecies of the coronavirus before.

It may be a slightly more infectious strain of the virus , Balloux told the BBC. He estimates that AY.4.2 spreads around 10 percent faster than the currently dominant delta variant. “That’s nothing compared to what we saw with Alpha and Delta, which were about 50 to 60 percent more transferable,” explains Balloux.

He therefore does not see AY.4.2 as the cause of the recent sharp rise in the number of infections in Great Britain. Balloux said it was possible that the rising number of infections with the subspecies was a “random demographic event”. Nevertheless, it is important to keep watching the variant.

So far, AY.4.2 has not been given a name from the Greek alphabet by the World Health Organization (WHO). This only happens when a variant is classified by the WHO as a variant of concern (VOC) or a variant under observation (variant of interest, VOI).

Why did AY.4.2 not have its own Greek letter?

Specifically, the new subtype has two mutations on the spike protein called A222V and Y145H, which are likely responsible for making the variant slightly more contagious. These mutations are not only known from Delta-Plus, but had already occurred in previous mutations.

In this respect, the emergence of the new subtype does not cause any major concerns among the experts at the World Health Organization (WHO). The variant would only get its own name if the WHO classed AY.4.2 as a “Variant of Concern” (VOC) or “Variant of Interest” (VOI). 


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