a new sub-variant of the Delta monitored “very closely” in the United Kingdom

a new sub-variant of the Delta monitored “very closely” in the United Kingdom
a new sub-variant of the Delta monitored “very closely” in the United Kingdom

The British government, faced with an increase in Covid-19 contamination, indicated on Tuesday, October 19 “Watch very closely” a new sub-variant spreading in the United Kingdom, although it has not been established as is if it is more contagious. This “AY4.2” variant is a sub-variant of the highly contagious Delta, which initially appeared in India and which had caused a resumption of the epidemic in late spring and early summer.

“We will not hesitate to take action if necessary”, a Downing Street spokesperson said. However, “Nothing suggests that it spreads more easily”, he tried to reassure.

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The emergence of this new variant despite the very strong contagiousness of the Delta, which tends to rule out new strains, raises fears of an even stronger transmissibility. It comes as the United Kingdom, which deplores nearly 139,000 deaths from Covid-19, is faced with a growing number of positive cases, now exceeding 40,000 each day, an incidence rate much higher than in the rest of Europe.

“Not at the origin” of the epidemic resumption

Some scientists attribute the current degradation, which for the moment mainly concerns adolescents and young adults, to the weak vaccination of minors, to the decrease in the immunity of the oldest vaccinated very early, or to the lifting in July in England. most of the restrictions, such as the indoor mask.

But for François Balloux, director of the Institute of Genetics at UCL, the new variant “Is not the cause of the recent increase in the number of cases in the UK”. She explains that with her low frequency for now, even “A 10% higher transmissibility could have caused only a small number of additional cases”.

“This variant has a particularity: it is transmitted exclusively in places of culture”

The emergence of AY4.2 does not constitute “Not a situation comparable to the emergence of the Alpha and Delta strains which were much more transmissible (50% or more) than all the strains in circulation at the time”, added the researcher.

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The new variant AY4.2 is almost non-existent outside the UK, apart from three cases in the US and a few more in Denmark, which have since almost disappeared. Work is underway to test its resistance to vaccines.

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