US health officials are looking closely at the emerging COVID variant more popularly known as the “delta plus” variant. Some scientists believe that this is more contagious than the highly transmissible delta variant. Known formally as AY.42, delta plus comes with two new mutations.
According to Francois Balloux, director of the Genetics Institute at University College London, the delta plus variant is 10% to 15% more contagious than the already highly transmissible delta variant.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that someone infected with the delta plus variant could spread the virus to nine other people.
Rise in Delta Plus Cases in the UK
There are a growing number of delta plus COVID19 variant cases in the UK. However, Dr. Walensky said on Sunday that she doesn’t think that flights coming from the UK and Europe will get banned. She said, “we’re absolutely following the science very, very carefully, but we are not anticipating or looking into that right now”.
Walensky also said that the US already had a “handful” of delta plus cases. However, it hasn’t “taken off” unlike what’s happening in the UK. In the UK, the delta variant represented 6% of all sequenced COVID19 cases beginning the week of September 27. And with the new variant “increasing in frequency”, doctors from the National Health Service Confederation in London want the return of stricter COVID19 protocols.
India’s Ministry of Health reported the variant’s higher transmissibility as early as June. The Indian Health Ministry asked to boost testing, surveillance, and speed up contact tracing to prevent its spread.
Top health authorities have raised the alarm for weeks over the possibility of seeing vaccine-resistant COVID19 variants since many are still unvaccinated around the world. According to White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci back in August, the US will be “in trouble” if a mutation worse than delta spreads.