UK monitoring “Subvariant” of Coronavirus Delta strain
UK: Britain on Tuesday said it was monitoring a subvariant of the Delta strain of the coronavirus, which has been seen in a growing number of cases.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the government was keeping a “close eye” on the AY.4.2 variant but said there was no evidence it spreads more easily.
“As you would expect, we are monitoring it closely and won’t hesitate to take action if necessary,” he told reporters.
Overall infection rates in Britain remain stubbornly high, despite high rates of vaccination, and on Monday nearly 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded.
Some scientists have suggested that measures to mitigate close-contact transmission, such as mask-wearing indoors, could be needed to prevent cases spiralling further.
Coronavirus restrictions were lifted across the country in July after three national lockdowns.
The rise has been attributed to high numbers of infections among schoolchildren, and prompted calls for a more wide-ranging booster jab programme to combat waning immunity. Downing Street has acknowledged the rising numbers of positive tests, hospital admissions and deaths, but pointed to fluctuations in all three rates in recent months.
Ads by Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology at University College London, said AY.4.2 has two spike mutations found in other coronavirus variants and was first sequenced in April 2020.
The subvariant was “rare” outside Britain and there had been only three cases detected so far in the United States, he added.
“As AY.4.2 is still at fairly low frequency, a 10 percent increase in its transmissibility could have caused only a small number of additional cases.
“As such it hasn’t been driving the recent increase in case numbers in the UK.”
Bayroux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute, added: “This is not a situation comparable to the emergence of Alpha and Delta that were far more transmissible (50 percent or more) than any strain in circulation at the time.
Meanwhile, life has returned to normal for millions in Britain since restrictions were lifted over the summer. But while the rules have vanished, the coronavirus hasn’t. Many scientists are calling on the UK government to reimpose social restrictions and speed up booster vaccinations as coronavirus infection rates, already Europe’s highest, rise.
The UK recorded 49,156 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the largest number since mid-July. New infections averaged 43,000 a day over the past week, a 15% increase on the week before. Last week, the Office for National Statistics estimated that one in 60 people in England had the virus.
The head coach of Washington State’s college football team has been fired along with four assistants for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Nick Rolovich was axed from his $3.2mn a year post as a deadline requiring all Washington state employees to be vaccinated expired.
– NDTV, HINDUSTAN TIMES