The scientific community, in Greece as well, has been alarmed over the Delta + mutation as, according to the data of the National Organization of Public Health (EODY), a total of 11 cases of the new variant of the coronavirus have been identified, which were detected scattered within Greek territory.
The coronavirus that entered our lives worldwide in 2019 has caused more than 4.5 million deaths to date. The number of cases increased sharply when the coronavirus Delta mutation began to spread in May 2021.
A few months later, as health services around the world struggled to cope with the spread of the Delta variant, it became known that a new mutation had appeared, which scientists call “AY.4.2” or “Delta +”.
In fact, it is not a new strain of the coronavirus, but a subtype of the Delta variant.
11 cases in Greece
In the context of re-evaluation of samples from the National Genomic Surveillance Network of EODY for the mutations of SARS-CoV-2 in our country, 11 samples which according to the previous data were classified as strain AV.4 (belonging to the strain Delta), now with current revision are classified as strain ΑΥ.4.2 (also called as Delta +).
In total, 364 new cases of the Delta mutation were detected in the period 13 September to 9 October in our country, while from the beginning of the sample control until today, the Delta mutation was detected at a rate of 33.02%,
In total, 11,280 cases of the same variant have been detected in Greece, of which 4,419 were detected in Attica.
Scientists report that the AY.4.2 subtype appears to be 10-15% more contagious than the Delta mutation but cannot yet be blamed for the high number of COVID cases in the UK. Thus, research is being conducted to determine whether it contributes to the increase in cases in the United Kingdom and whether it is more contagious than Delta.
AY.4.2 is one of the 45 sub-variants that are descendants of Delta and have been identified worldwide. It carries two characteristic mutations (Y145H and A222V) in the spike protein, with which the virus infects human cells.
Professor François Balot, director of the Institute of Genetics at University College London (UCL), said he was “potentially a marginally more contagious strain.” “It certainly does not compare to what we saw with Alpha and Delta, which were 50% to 60% more contagious.”
He estimated that “it is probably up to 10% more contagious. At this stage I would say wait and see, without panic. “It may be slightly more contagious, but not as completely destructive as what we’ve seen before.”
The Chinese virologist Xi Zengli, famous for her research on coronaviruses in bats and therefore known as the “bat woman”, claims that new mutations will continue to appear and that it is only a matter of time before we encounter a more deadly mutation.
Tzouvelekis: The vaccines also cover the Delta + mutation
Scientists are already studying whether this is a new threat, although experts consider it unlikely to escape existing vaccines.
The vaccines also cover the Delta + mutation, pointed out associate professor of Pulmonology at the Patras hospital Argyris Tzouvelekis. “It is still being studied. It is a small variant of the Delta mutation, we do not know if it has a greater infectious action or contagion,” he noted.
“Vaccines cover the Delta mutation, so they also cover its minor variants,” he clarified, speaking to ERT.
Experts in Oxford are not worried
The Delta + variant is unlikely to change the picture of the pandemic, said Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Team, on Wednesday.
The mutation is growing and accounts for about 6% of all sequences produced, the UK Health and Safety Administration said last week, but has not been identified as “under investigation” or “variant of concern”.
“The discovery of new variants is of course important to monitor, but it does not imply that this new variant will be the next to replace Delta,” Pollard told BBC radio.
“Indeed, even if it does, Delta is incredibly ‘good’ at transmitting to a vaccinated population and a new one may be a little ‘better’, but it is unlikely to change the picture dramatically from where we are today.”