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COVID-19: Delta variant has a NEW mutation – here’s what we know

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Oct 24, 2021

New variant alert! Scientists are now sounding the alarm over a new variant of COVID-19 known unofficially as “Delta-Plus.” For now, this new variant isn’t a cause for concern for South Africa as it currently accounts for about 6% of all analysed COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom (UK).

UK scientists are now hard at work trying to determine the extent of the Delta Plus variant’s spread. The variant contains mutations that might give the virus survival advantages. It is scientifically referred to as  AY.4.2 and there isn’t yet evidence that suggests that this particular variant makes people even more sick. AY.4.2 has two spike mutations found in other coronavirus variants and was first sequenced in April 2020.

‘Delta Plus’ – Should we be worried?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is currently tracking nearly two dozen variations of the Delta variant, with Delta Plus being the one of them. It is important to emphasise that the Delta Plus variant is not yet one of concern.

If preliminary evidence is anything to go by, the Delta Plus variant could be 10-15 percent more transmissible than the original Delta, but more evidence is needed to fully determine its risk.

Professor Francois Balloux, director of University College London’s Genetics Institute had this to say to the BBC about this new variant: “It is potentially a marginally more infectious strain. It’s nothing compared with what we saw with Alpha and Delta, which were something like 50 to 60 percent more transmissible. So we are talking about something quite subtle here and that is currently under investigation.”

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