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A New Delta Variant on the Horizon

An offshoot of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is raising some alarm in the United States and the United Kingdom. While this strain, called AY.4.2 (pronounced A-point-four-point-two), or Delta Plus has not been recorded in Belize thus far, it is being monitored closely in the U.S. and the U.K. International media report that in the U.K., Delta remains the dominant variant but data shows that six percent of Covid cases that have been genetically sequenced are of a new type. A report by The Hill says that medical experts warn vulnerable populations to be on the lookout.

The Delta Plus variant of SARS‐CoV‐2 also known as the AY42 variant is on what the UK Health Security Agency describes as in increasing trajectory. Delta Plus still represents a relatively small minority of cases in the UK with Delta still the predominant Strain. Health officials said that Delta Plus is still being monitored. As of October 19th it is not considered a variant of concern. The UK has been experiencing a surge in cases however geneticist Francois Balloux of University College London said that even assuming an estimated ten percent increase transmissibility for Delta Plus over the original Delta variant, Delta Plus can’t be the sole cause for the recent spike. Delta Plus is less widespread in the US. Former US FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called for what he described as urgent research into Delta Plus. Although he said that there was not a “cause for immediate concern.”.”

The BBC reports that contains mutations that might give the virus survival advantages. Tests are under way to understand how much of a threat it may pose. Experts say it is unlikely to take off in a big way or escape current vaccines. It is not yet considered a variant of concern, or a variant under investigation – the categories assigned to variants and the level of risk associated with them.