What is the new COVID-19 mutation known as ‘Delta plus’? Here’s what we know

What is the new COVID-19 mutation known as ‘Delta plus’? Here’s what we know

A new, slightly more contagious mutation of the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 is beginning to attract attention — particularly in the United Kingdom, where cases are rising again.

The mutation, known as AY.4.2, accounted for six per cent of all new cases genetically sequenced during the final week of September, according to , which also describes it as “expanding” in the country.

The Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed Tuesday that the mutation — which is being dubbed “Delta plus” — has made its way to Canada, with nine cases identified since July.

But experts say while the mutation is worth monitoring, it’s not yet clear if AY.4.2 will become a variant of concern like the original Delta strain.

AY.4.2 is just the latest mutation of COVID-19, whose spread has led to thousands of variants and mutations as the virus evolves to try and survive.

An offshoot of the Delta variant, it contains two mutations in its spike protein, which allows the virus to penetrate human blood cells. Those mutations, known as Y145H and A222V, have been found in other variants dating back to the earliest stages of the pandemic.

While experts say those spike protein mutations themselves have not led to increased transmissibility in the past, they admit that combining with the properties of the Delta variant could give AY.4.2 an advantage.
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