It appears that about ten per cent of Corona infections in the UK are caused by a new type of virus, called “AY.4.2”. imminent death? “There is a real chance that other, more contagious species will already spread.”
Morocco decided to stop its flights to the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. Because it’s another fast-spreading new type of coronavirus: no one is waiting for it. The new variant will spread about ten to fifteen percent faster, according to early British estimates.
But these are the first approximate calculations. “I’m not convinced yet,” says evolutionary biology professor Tom Wenseleers (KU Leuven), who previously helped map the progression of the delta variant. When calculating the new variable, find out that AY.4.2. It is not increasing in all areas, and even declining somewhat in some areas of Great Britain.
“If you were to constantly notice an increase in this variable all over the place, it probably has some intrinsic advantage. But I don’t see that consistent picture now,” Winsellers said when asked. This may indicate that the virus spreads in subgroups that are poorly vaccinated, or that have many contacts.
However, Wenseleers also concluded that the virus spread is slightly higher on average. About 2.4 percent faster than the “normal” delta variant, the AY.4.2 will propagate – a slight advantage. By comparison: the alpha variant (formerly the British variant) infected about 50 percent more people than the classic coronavirus, while the delta variant infected another 60 percent.
These numbers alone mean that AY.4.2 won’t be in charge soon, as the biologist predicts. “It took months for the alpha variant to become dominant. That would progress much more slowly, if it had an advantage at all. I don’t think that variant would make much difference now.”
In this regard, AY.4.2 reminds us of the so-called “Spanish alternative”, which seemed to be making headway in Europe late last summer. Maybe because he had a tailwind of travelers and guys with a lot of connections, maybe because it was already such a contagious thing. Wenseleers lean toward the second theory: “Had the alpha variant not been introduced, I think this Spanish variant would have gradually replaced the other viruses.”
The new mutant is actually a modified version of the delta variant, which is why it is also called “delta additive variant”. For its spurs, AY.4.2 has undergone two changes – technically named Y145H and A222V. Although it is already known from previous coronaviruses, it is unclear what exactly the changes ‘do’. To do this, one has to perform in vitro experiments in which cells are infected with viruses with and without mutations.
The first data suggests that for now the good news is that deltaplus is suddenly no longer any less sensitive to vaccines or natural immunity. The big, open question is to what extent the virus still has ‘evolutionary potential’: to what extent evolution can still turn the coronavirus into something completely different – or whether the virus is limited in its potential.
Meanwhile, AY.4.2 also appears to be on the decline in Denmark. This may indicate that the variant is not at all more contagious than regular delta viruses — but also that there are more variants circulating under the radar that are more contagious than AY.4.2, says Wenseleers. “There is a real chance that other variants are already circulating, which simply do not have their own classification yet in the coronavirus family tree.”
By the way, do not panic, Wenseleers emphasizes: the variant that performs tens of percent better than its predecessors, such as delta or alpha, has not been discovered. “And for a pandemic, it’s going to have a much bigger impact right now if they haven’t been vaccinated yet, just go get an injection.”
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