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CDC investigates new Delta-related coronavirus variant, AY.4.2

1 month 1 week 5 days ago Thursday, October 21 2021 Oct 21, 2021 October 21, 2021 5:42 AM October 21, 2021 in News
Source: CNN

A subtype of the Delta variant, called AY.4.2, is causing an increasing number of infection cases in the United Kingdom.

AY.4.2 is still "very rare" in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

"It is well below 0.05 percent of all our sequenced viruses, with less than 10 reported in our database so far," the CDC said in a statement sent to Insider on Wednesday.

That said, the Delta subtype seems to be expanding its reach in the United Kingdom. 

During the last week of September, AY.4.2 was responsible for an estimated 6 percent of the U.K.'s coronavirus cases and it appears to be "on an increasing trajectory," according to a report by the UK Health Security Agency said.

In addition to this, the first case of AY.4.2 was reported in Israel on Tuesday, the CDC says.

Scientists still have a lot to learn about AY.4.2.

AY.4.2 has garnered worldwide attention from the infectious disease community due to its two changes located on the viral spike protein, which could perhaps give it some advantages. Some experts theorize the subtype may be slightly more transmissible than the original Delta variant, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Despite its increasing presence in the U.K., the nation has not classified it as a "variant of concern."

Additionally, health officials in the U.S. are assuring the public that A.Y.4.2 does not appear to reduce the effectiveness of current COVID-19 vaccines.

The director of the CDC, Dr Rochelle Walensky, touched on this during a Wednesday news conference, saying, "At this time … there is no evidence that the sub lineage A.Y.4.2 impacts the effectiveness of our current vaccines or therapeutics." 

It is unknown where the sublineage originated, but experts say A.Y.4.2. has been circulating in the U.K. since June.

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