Delta 2.0: What’s behind new Covid variant?

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A new Delta variant is spreading in the United States. There are already cases in Europe as well. Now the first researchers are already urging caution.

The coronavirus continues to mutate: after Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, as well as some lesser-known variants, another mutant has now appeared in the form of AY.3. This is a subspecies of the delta variant, which is currently also dominant in Switzerland and is significantly more infectious than earlier Sars-CoV-2 forms.

The spread of AY.3 is mainly observed in the Midwest and in the southern states of the USA. According to the data, in Mississippi, for example, 45 percent of new infections are already attributable to this delta subform, while in Missouri the figure is 43 percent. This is shown by data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Cases have also been recorded in Europe: In Great Britain, Israel, but also in Germany. There, the proportion is 3.4 percent, as “Heute” already reported.

It is currently unclear what risk AY.3 poses. While German SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach speculates on Twitter that the variant could be even more contagious than Delta, Christina Pagel, a professor at University College London – also noted on Twitter: “There is no current evidence that AY.3 is worse than Delta.”

Still, she urges caution, saying that overall, very little is known about AY.3. The variant “might be more transmissible than Delta, it might be more immune evasive.” But this could also be a coincidence. Still, “we’ve seen this before, so we should learn more about the variant.”

According to the variant overview site covSPECTRUM, AY.3 has been detected three times so far in neighboring Switzerland: In mid-July, in calendar weeks 28 and 29. Since then, no more. Accordingly, the health authorities in the neighboring country are relaxed. “There are currently no indications that there are relevant biological differences to the other Delta variants,” spokesman Daniel Dauwalder told the news portal “20 Minuten.” Therefore, he said, there is little evidence “that AY.3 poses a greater risk than the other variants of the Delta family.”

That’s also the view at Public Health England (PHE). According to an Aug. 20 briefing, the variant is not expected to pose a higher risk of transmission or have a greater impact on vaccine protection. However, this judgment does not amount to a free pass. After all, the viral load of an infection with the classic delta mutant is already up to 1,000 times higher than with earlier variants. There are also indications that the risk of disease and death is higher.

  • source: heute.at/picture: pixabay.com
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