Delta subvariant A.Y 4.2 now present in 42 countries – WHO
SWITZERLAND: The World Health Organization said it was closely tracking a Delta subvariant to determine whether it was more transmissible than the original strain, as COVID-19 cases rise globally.
It was also examining whether people were more resistant to the particular subvariant, called AY. 4.2, which has been detected in at least 42 countries.
“An increase in AY. 4.2 sequence submissions has been observed since July,” the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update.
“Epidemiological and laboratory studies are ongoing” to see if there was a change in transmissibility of the variant, or a decrease in the ability of human antibodies to block the virus, said the WHO.
The subvariant, which some are calling “Delta Plus”, has been designated a Variant Under Investigation by the UK Health Security Agency. There was no evidence that it caused more severe disease or rendered vaccines ineffective.
Because it isn’t a variant of interest or concern, it has not yet been named after a letter of the Greek alphabet. The UN health agency is tracking about 20 variations of the Delta variant.
The AY. 4.2 lineage has three additional mutations compared to the original Delta variant, including two in the spike protein – the part of the virus which latches on to human cells.
Some 93 per cent of all detected cases of the subvariant were in Britain, according to data uploaded to the GISAID global science initiative.
The lineage accounted for an estimated 5.9 per cent of all Delta cases reported in Britain in the week beginning October 3.
In weekly update, the WHO also said Europe stood out as the only major region worldwide to report an increase in both coronavirus cases and deaths over the last week, with double-digit percentage increases in each.
The WHO said new COVID-19 cases in its 53-country European region, which stretches as far east as former Soviet republics in Central Asia, recorded an 18 per cent increase in COVID-19 cases over the last week – a fourth straight weekly increase for the area.
Europe also saw a 14 per cent increase in virus-related deaths. That amounted to more than 1.6 million new cases and over 21,000 new deaths. The United States tallied the largest number of new cases over the last seven days – nearly 513,000 new cases, though that was a 12 per cent drop from the previous week – and over 11,600 deaths, which was about the same number as the previous week, the WHO said.
Britain was second at more than 330,000 new cases. Russia, which has chalked up a series of national daily records for COVID-19 infections and deaths in recent days, had nearly a quarter million new cases over the last week. – AGENCIES