A ‘delta-plus’ variant has been found in labs – including in NC

Coronavirus

(WGHP) – Just when you think aggressive vaccination has helped to quell the virulent delta variant strain of COVID-19 that surged across the world last summer, you may be hearing that the “delta-plus” variant has been found in North Carolina.

Dr. Zack Moore, an epidemiologist for the state, said there actually are 40 subvariants of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

“The subvariants AY.1 and AY.2 are sometimes referred to as ‘delta plus’ and are tracked separately from the other subvariants of delta on CDC’s Variant Proportions site,” Moore wrote in an email shared with WGHP by North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Summer Tonizzo.

“The AY.4.2 subvariant, which is also sometimes called ‘delta plus,’ accounts for a very small fraction of viruses sequenced nationally and from North Carolina.”

CBS News reported this week that AY.4.2 has been spotted by labs in at least eight states – including North Carolina – and that officials in the United Kingdom are investigating that strain.

The report cited labs in California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Rhode Island, Washington and the District of Columbia.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s variant proportions site shows that AY.1 represents about one-tenth of 1 percent of all variant cases.

The rest are the product of the delta variant, which has sickened, hospitalized and killed thousands in the United States since emerging from India.

The delta-plus has been identified in labs, Moore wrote. There have been no reports of it being found having infected humans.

“Our weekly COVID-19 surveillance summary shows the variants identified each week among specimens sequenced by laboratories that report all whole genomic sequencing results to NCDHHS, but does not currently break out delta subvariants in North Carolina,” Moore said. 

He cited the CDC’s Variant Proportions site and further information updated weekly by NC DHHS to show variants’ impact on the state.

CBS reported that scientists already have found what was called “worrying combinations of mutations” in those variants.

In the UK, AY.4.2 has climbed to more than 11 percent of cases of the delta variant. CBS reported. Officials have said they are confident that existing vaccines are handling these variants.

“Estimated growth rates remain slightly higher for AY.4.2 than for Delta, and the household secondary attack rate is higher for AY.4.2 cases than for other Delta cases,” said a report published Friday by the U.K. Health Security Agency, CBS reported.

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