Is new Covid-19 Delta descendant AY.4.2 more infectious than original?
Professor Francois Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute, and a professor of computational biology at University College London speaks to John about the latest research that is finding alarming evidence that the new delta descendant may be more infectious than the original Delta variant.
If the preliminary evidence is confirmed, AY.4.2 may be the most infectious coronavirus strain since the pandemic started.
This variant is close to getting its own Greek moniker, but still not as a variant of concern.Professor Francois Balloux, Director of the UCL Genetics Institute - University College London
At this stage, there remain four variants of concern, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, he reiterates, and the new variant is not at that level.
I suspect that later this week, there is a really good chance that it might be upgraded to a variant of interest, at the very least by Public Health England.Professor Francois Balloux, Director of the UCL Genetics Institute - University College London
How much is this new variant being picked up during sequencing, asks John?
The UK has a very strong surveillance programme so a large number of cases are sequenced and at the moment it is around 8% of the cases of the new AY.4.2 lineage.Professor Francois Balloux, Director of the UCL Genetics Institute - University College London
He says Denmark also has an excellent surveillance programme and that country saw a rise in the AY.4.2 variant of 2% but since then it has gone down and seemingly gone.
It is an interesting situation where it seems to be going up in one country and not going up in others - and that is the reason why I am careful at this stage about saying it has an intrinsic transmissibility advantage. While it is very likely, it is possibly a false alarm.Professor Francois Balloux, Director of the UCL Genetics Institute - University College London
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