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It is not only the United Kingdom that is following with bated breath the spread of the Delta plus variant whose characteristics are being investigated. Cases belonging to this new mutation have been detected in Russia, the United States, Denmark, Germany, Israel and some also in our country. And the World Health Organization itself has made it known that it has lit a beacon on the situation of infections ascribed to the direct descendant of the Delta.
Cases identified in the US, but only 0.05%
Although very few, some have actually been identified in the US according to reports from the director of the CDC (Centers for Diseases Control) Rochelle Walensky in a meeting at the White House to take stock of the pandemic. Almost all cases have so far been detected in Europe. “It is well below 0.05% of all the viruses we have sequenced, with fewer than 10 cases reported in our database so far.” At the moment it is not yet clear whether the variant, which has two mutations on the Spike protein, gives any advantages to the virus. And, according to the CDC, there is a lack of evidence that AY.4.2 affects the effectiveness of current vaccines or therapies. The British Health Security Agency last Friday announced that the subtype is expanding in England by increasing its frequency. “There is no reason to panic. It is not a situation comparable to the appearance of the Alpha and Delta variants, much more transmissible than any other strain in circulation at the moment – underlines Francois Balloux, director of the University College London Genetics Institute – there could be a potential small increase in transmissibility, which would not however have an impact similar to that of the other two on the pandemic ».
You come to Israel from Moldova and Great Britain
In Israel, concern is growing over the entry of the AY4.2 variant, after the identification of six cases. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, after an extraordinary consultation held yesterday with heads of the Ministry of Health, called a second one in which to discuss, among other things, a possible update of the precautions to be taken in view of the readmission – starting from November 1st – of tourists vaccinated foreigners. In an interview with public radio Kan Salman Zarka, responsible for the fight against Covid, said that the variant AK4.2 was detected in four individuals who arrived in Israel from Moldova and in two others from Great Britain.
80 sequences filed nationwide
The Delta AY.4.2 variant of SARS-CoV-2 has already been present in Italy for some time and with even more consistent numbers. “In Brescia we even saw two cases of it in a survey conducted at the end of August, and we were most likely the first to identify it. But since then we have more than 80 sequences deposited nationally », announced Arnaldo Caruso, president of the Italian Society of Virology (Siv-Isv). “Most of the notifications have taken place since mid-October, but this is due to the fact that there is now a need to monitor it. And looking for it, of course, you will find it ». The number one of the Italian virologists is not frightened by the new mutant. “It is a variant that has very few additional mutations compared to the Delta” today dominant in the world, Caruso emphasizes. Compared to the Delta, “it has only 3 more mutated amino acids in the Spike protein” used by the Covid-19 virus to “hook” target cells like a hook. “Mutations that – insists the specialist – do not even appear too interesting from a functional point of view”.
Abrignani: it is no more dangerous than the Delta
Other prominent scholars also tend to extinguish excessive fears. According to Sergio Abrignani, full professor of Immunology at the State University of Milan and member of the Scientific Technical Committee, as always happens with the variants even with respect to the new Delta Plus, two things must be looked at. First of all “transmissibility, or any variant that is more transmissible than the Delta will tend to take over, but this AY.4.2 is not”. The second is «if, with the same transmissibility, the Delta Plus escapes more from the immune system and therefore also from vaccines. But this does not seem to be the case ».