What you need to know about the new Covid-19 Delta Plus variant AY.4.2

Cases have been reported in the United States, Canada, Australia and parts of western Europe.
Cases have been reported in the United States, Canada, Australia and parts of Western Europe.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE - Britain has been seeing a growing number of cases. Just how much of a threat is the Delta Plus variant?

What is AY.4.2, also known as the Delta Plus variant?

Put simply, it is a mutation of the Covid-19 Delta variant. It is a combination of the AY.4 Delta variant plus the S:Y145H spike mutation.

How big of a threat is it?

Currently, experts are saying that there is no indication that the new variant is more infectious or more dangerous than the Delta, but tests are ongoing, the BBC reported.

It has not, as of yet, been classified by the World Health Organisation as a variant of concern, or a variant under investigation. These categories are assigned based on risk level.

Where can this variant be found?

More than 6 per cent of all cases so far have been reported in Britain.

Newsweek reported that data from the GISAID virus reporting database and collected and displayed by Outbreak.Info showed cases have been reported in the United States, Canada, Australia and parts of Western Europe.

Australia and Japan have reported only one case each as at Tuesday (Oct 19), Newsweek reported. The US has reported seven such infections, and Canada six.

What do the experts say about the variant?

The AY.4.2 has yet to be observed driving any recent increase in case numbers in Britain, according to University College London's professor of computational systems biology Francois Balloux.

"As AY.4.2 is still at fairly low frequency, a 10 per cent increase in its transmissibility could have caused only a small number of additional cases," he said. "This is not a situation comparable to the emergence of Alpha and Delta that were far more transmissible (50 per cent or more) than any strain in circulation at the time."