As Scientists Monitor Growth Rate of AY 4.2, the Covid Subvariant is Taking Hold of UK, Spreading in Russia

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As Scientists Monitor Growth Rate of AY 4.2, the Covid Subvariant is Taking Hold of UK, Spreading in Russia
© Provided by News18 As Scientists Monitor Growth Rate of AY 4.2, the Covid Subvariant is Taking Hold of UK, Spreading in Russia

By now, we are all in a state of resigned acceptance that the pandemic is not going to magically disappear. As the coronavirus changes shape, any new strain it morphs into can spell doom for us. Therefore, the subvariant of Delta, called ‘Delta Plus’ is being examined with extreme caution by the scientists.

Thankfully, the scientific community has not found it to be very alarming as of now, and therefore, it has not yet been given a name with Greek alphabets, which seems to be how most dangerous strains of Covid — alpha, delta — are identified.

A relative of the delta variant, Delta plus only recently gained the ‘subvariant’ status after British scientists discovered it last month. The variant has two mutations in the spike protein, which helps the coronavirus invade the body’s cells. It isn’t the first time such mutations have been seen in a Covid strain, but the previous strains with similar mutations have not evolved much and were therefore not a threat.

According to a report in the Associated Press, “Scientists are monitoring the delta-related variant — known as AY.4.2. — to see if it might spread more easily or be more deadly than previous versions of the coronavirus.” Although not alarming, it has taken hold on United Kingdom, Russia and even entered Israel, according to the media reports. Here’s how the AY.4.2. is spreading through these countries.

United Kingdom

In a recent report, U.K. officials said this variant makes up 6% of all analyzed COVID-19 cases in the country and is “on an increasing trajectory.” Currently, the A.Y. 4.2. has been “designated as a variant under investigation” but not yet a “variant of concern.” An AFP report states that this designation was made on the basis that this sub-lineage has become increasingly common in the UK in recent months. Early evidence also points to the fact that it may have an increased growth rate in the UK compared to Delta. As of October 20, there have been 15,120 cases of the subvariant AY.4.2, which was first detected in July. Britain is currently battling the second-highest infection rate in the world, behind the United States.

Russia

A Reuters report states that Moscow will reintroduce lockdown measures from Oct 28 to fight the surge in Covid-19 cases in Russia. Various measures are being followed by the country to curb the spread of infection. Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin this week approved a government proposal for a week-long workplace shutdown at the start of November, after coronavirus-related deaths across Russia in the past 24 hours hit yet another daily record of 1,028 on Wednesday, with 34,073 new infections.

So far, Russia has also reported some Covid-19 infections with a new coronavirus variant believed to be even more contagious than the Delta one. It is possible that the AY.4.2 variant can spread widely, causing the rate of new Covid-19 cases, already at record highs in Russia, to rise even further, according to a media report. It also has to be seen whether the new variant can replace Delta eventually.

Israel

The subvariant of the Delta coronavirus mutation was also found in a child who entered Israel from Moldova, earlier this week. According to reports in Hebrew media, the subvariant was found for the first time in Israel in that 11-year-old boy who was flagged at the airport and sent into isolation.

(With inputs from AP, AFP and Reuters)

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