- WHO says it is looking to see if AY.4.2 is more dangerous than its delta ancestor
- The UK accounts for 93% of the world’s AY.4.2 cases, and is slowly outpacing other forms of
- AY.4.2 Cases are also increasing in European countries, Poland and Germany
A subtype of the Covid delta strain growing in the UK is now on the radar of the World Health Organisation.
AY.4.2 – found in all except 12 regions of England – is thought to be 15 percent more infectious than its already highly virulent ancestor.
UK health chiefs last week dubbed it ‘a version under investigation’ as they seek to establish how contagious it is or if it is better able to avoid vaccines.
Now the WHO is also taking special notice of AY.4.2, dedicating an entire section of its weekly epidemiological report to the new strain.
As of October 25, more than 26,000 cases have been reported from 42 countries, the UN agency said.
The UK outbreak gets a special mention, given that the UK – which has one of the strongest Covid surveillance schemes in the world – has detected around 93 per cent of the global total reported cases.
The new covid version AY.4.2 has been detected in 42 countries, but is most prevalent in the UK, US, Denmark, Poland and Germany. This graph shows the percentage of AY.4.2 cases as a ratio of total COVID cases in the country. The UK has led the case growth since the variant was identified in July, but Poland has eclipsed it in recent weeks, and there are signs Germany is catching on as well.
The map above shows 12 regions not found in the two weeks AY.4.2 to October 16 (white), the latest available. It has spread to almost every region of England.
The chart above shows that AY.4.2 accounted for a slightly higher proportion of cases in the latest week – one in ten – than two weeks ago – one in 13. Scientists said the slow growth was still consistent with a 10 percent transmission gain. Delta
It wants to know whether the variant, which is believed to have emerged in England, is more dangerous than the current strain.
The WHO said a ‘gradual increase’ in the ratio to AY.4.2 has been observed in the UK.
AY.4.2: Everything you need to know
Where did AY.4.2 come from?
According to UK-based Tracking, this sub-version of Delta was first detected in the UK on 26 June.
Scientists say it is likely that AY.4.2 developed here because the UK has a lot more cases than other countries.
But it is possible that the variant was imported from abroad and then started spreading in the country.
Why is it only in some countries?
AY.4.2 has so far been seen in over 40 countries including the UK, Germany, Denmark and the US.
It cannot be seen in other places due to lack of Covid surveillance, making the new sub-version unwatchable.
But travel restrictions may also be behind the slow spread, which has made it less likely that the virus will be passed between countries.
How contagious is the sub-variant?
Experts estimate that AY.4.2 is about 10 percent more contagious than the delta version.
They say this could lead to a slightly higher number of cases, but it will not trigger the spike that was seen when Delta arrived in the UK.
Should I be concerned about AY.4.2?
Scientists say there is no reason to be overly concerned about AY.4.2.
There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines against the suboptimal variant are less effective, or that there is an increased risk of hospitalization and death.
But laboratory tests are underway in laboratories in the UK and Denmark to assess this.
Professor Lawrence Young from the University of Warwick said: ‘There is no reason to suggest that vaccines will not be as effective.’
And Professor Anders Fomsgaard from Denmark’s Covid Surveillance Center said: ‘We are not concerned with this. We do not see anything at this time to indicate that it is more infectious, resistant or pathogenic.’
Statistics show that the new variant accounts for about 10 per cent of all new cases, compared to just 5 per cent last month.
Further studies are already underway to assess whether AY.4.2 is more contagious or fatal, the WHO report said.
“Epidemiological and laboratory studies are ongoing to assess whether AY.4.2 confers any additional phenotypic effects (eg changes in infection or the ability of antibodies to block viruses),” the report said. Shortage),’.
While the UK has recorded most of the world’s AY.4.2 samples, there are signs that outbreaks may be running in other countries.
Britain’s world-leading genomic capabilities mean it is better equipped to pick up on new strains, even as they have emerged in other countries.
According to the latest surveillance data, AY.4.2 accounts for about 16 percent of all Covid cases in Poland.
But the lack of genomic Covid testing in Poland makes it hard to compare with the UK, which has recorded only 132 cases of AY.4.2 compared to the UK’s 23,820.
In the UK, the government’s COVID surveillance programs detected AY.4.2 in 303 out of 315 local authorities in England for the fortnight ending 16 October, the latest available.
The 12 regions where AY.4.2 was not detected in the latest fortnight were: Babergh, Burnley, Copeland, Hinkley and Bosworth, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, Melton, Mid Suffolk, Newark and Sherwood, Odby and Wigston, Pendley, Rashcliffe and South Holland.
Despite data showing it is still outpacing its ancestor, some scientists are now questioning how much more permeable the subtropics actually are than Delta.
Figures show it is now behind one in ten cases in the UK, up slightly from one in 13 a fortnight ago. But the data also shows that its curve is flattening.
Scientists at Northumbria University involved in variant surveillance say it is still ‘unclear’ whether AY.4.2 is actually more transmissible because little is known about its mutation.