Covid-19: what do we know about “AY4.2”, a subvariant of the Delta and potentially more contagious?

Covid-19: what do we know about “AY4.2”, a subvariant of the Delta and potentially more contagious?
Covid-19: what do we know about “AY4.2”, a subvariant of the Delta and potentially more contagious?

VIRUS – This “variant under investigation” by British authorities is currently spreading in the United Kingdom and causing concern, amid soaring cases of Covid-19 in the country. But what do we know about this new variant?

AL – 2021-10-23T15:43:04.658+02:00

Identified in July in the United Kingdom, it is now present in 27 countries. This 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, is called “AY4.2”.

It is now considered a “variant under investigation”, by the United Kingdom Health Safety Agency. It therefore climbs one step in the English classification, which ranks the variants according to their dangerousness.

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Covid-19: the challenge of vaccination

More transmissible, but not necessarily more dangerous

This Delta variant was identified in July UK. Today, 14,000 Britons are said to have contracted it, which represented 6% of cases in the country last week. In all, cases have been identified in 27 countries, including Denmark, the United States and France, where 14 people have reportedly tested positive for Covid with this sub-variant.

“We are starting to have data that say yes, it seems that it is more transmissible, notes the epidemiologist and biostatistician Jonathan Roux, on the LCI set (top video). Indeed, according to the British public health agency, “preliminary elements seem to prove that he presents a higher transmission rate compared to the Delta “.

However, research is still ongoing to determine “if it is related to a change in the behavior of the virus or to epidemiological conditions”, as the UK suffers from one of the worst levels of contamination in the world. For some scientists, however, this wave is mainly linked to the lack of restrictions, the drop in immunity of the most vulnerable, vaccinated very early in the United Kingdom and the poor vaccination of adolescents.

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If research confirms that the rate of transmission of this variant is higher, it could become predominant. It would then replace the Delta variant which has so far eclipsed the previous strains of Sars-CoV-2. This does not mean, however, that a fifth wave is assured.

Indeed, for the UK Health Security Agency, the variant AY4.2 “does not appear to cause a more severe version of the disease or make the vaccines currently distributed less effective”. For epidemiologist Martin Blachier, however, this variant could pose a particular problem to people who have not yet been vaccinated. “As long as you have a variant that goes faster, in fact it goes faster in unvaccinated people”, he said.

At the moment anyway, the UK has yet to classify it as “variant of concern”. However, it remains closely monitored by scientists, as Public Health France asserts. “No other variant seems to be gaining momentum in the current context, but it is impossible to determine whether this situation will continue over the long term”, warns the health agency.

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