This photo, courtesy of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases / NIH, shows a transmission electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. ( Photo: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases / AFP)

International authorities are very alert to the increase in infections due to the appearance of the new lineage of COVID-19. This variant, which would be a descendant of the Delta, has increased the level of transmission of the virus since its appearance in July this year in the United Kingdom. But what about the strain AY.4.2 or commonly known as Delta Plus?

“This new sublineage of the SARS-CoV-2 is a descendant of the variant Delta (B.1.167.2) and has two characteristic mutations in protein S, ‘Y145H’ and ‘A222V’, which could offer the virus advantages to survive “, pointed to Financial Times Francois Balloux, director of the Institute of Genetics of the University College London.

This photo, courtesy of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases / NIH, shows a transmission electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. ( Photo: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases / AFP)

Since its appearance, the cases of this new sublineage have been increasing slowly. Delta Plus includes some new mutations that affect the protein spike, which the virus uses to penetrate our cells.

“The new variant is being watched very closely. There will be no hesitation to take action if necessary “, said the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson upon learning of the rise in infections during this last month.

IS IT MUCH MORE CONTAGIOUS THAN THE DELTA VARIANT?

If preliminary tests are confirmed, the “AY.4.2 could become the variant of the coronavirus most infectious since the pandemic began, he said Balloux to EFE.

Balloux He also detailed the international chain CNN that “What AY.4.2 it still has a fairly low frequency, a 10% increase in its transmissibility could have caused only a small number of additional cases. As such, it has not driven the recent increase in the number of cases in the United Kingdom.

A suspected COVID-19 patient rests in a hospital in the city of Binan, Laguna province, south of Manila, with record infections fueled by the hypercontagious variant Delta.  / Photo: Maria Tan / AFP)
A suspected COVID-19 patient rests in a hospital in the city of Binan, Laguna province, south of Manila, with record infections fueled by the hypercontagious variant Delta. / Photo: Maria Tan / AFP)

AY.4.2 could be between 10 and 15% more transmissible than the Delta, which is already twice as contagious as the original SARS-CoV-2.

Other experts consulted by the aforementioned medium affirm that it is too early to know if the sublineage AY.4.2 it will be more contagious or, in the worst case, more lethal.

WHICH COUNTRIES DID THE DELTA PLUS VARIANT ARRIVE IN?

The variant Delta Plus, which was first confirmed in United Kingdom In July 2021, it has already been identified in at least 44 countries, according to data from the portal outbreak.info, which collects global data on COVID-19.

On Russia, the authorities reported last Friday the discovery of several cases of the new subvariant of the Delta strain, the AY.4.2., in the region of Moscow.

The Russian body in charge of consumer protection, Rospotrebnadzor, explained that this variant is, “Probably a bit more contagious than the original Delta”. “It is probably 10% more contagious, according to foreign studies, than the original delta variant”, he told EFE Kamil Khafizov, an expert from said body.

Austria has so far registered “more than thirty” infections with the subspecies AY.4.2 of the delta variant of the COVID-19, the scientist told the same agency last Thursday Ulrich Elling, of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Academy of Sciences of Austria.

Elling recalled that the “Line AY.4.2”, with two mutations, “It is turning out to be more contagious than the Delta”.

On Portugal, the subvariant has been detected in recent weeks in a dozen cases, as revealed by the Portuguese National Institute of Health (INSA), without there being an exponential advance in this form of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

According to experts, there is no evidence that this subvariant affects the efficacy of vaccines administered in Portugal, a country in which 85.3% of the population (8.8 million) is already vaccinated with the full schedule.

On Italy, at least nine cases have been detected so far, according to the media The messenger. “Only nine cases have been registered in an estimated period between September and October” of this variant, according to data from a study carried out by experts from the Ceinge-Biotechnologies Advanced Research Center in Naples, who analyzed the genetic sequences contained in the international Gisaid database.

The middle page 12, assured that this new strain would also have reached United States, Denmark and Israel. In the latter country the presence of the mutation was confirmed last Tuesday. Case zero corresponds to an 11-year-old boy who had arrived from Europe and no close contact cases have yet been found.

The emergence of the AY.4.2 sublineage in the UK points to what scientists have warned throughout the pandemic: increased transmission may create new variants, he says. CNN.

The United Kingdom has had the highest rate of daily COVID-19 cases and deaths per million people in Western Europe since most of the pandemic restrictions were lifted in the summer.

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