Delta variant has a mutation that’s worrying experts: Here’s what we know so far

Posted at 3:25 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 17:21:13-04

(WXYZ) — A new mutation of the contagious Delta variant was recently discovered by British scientists.  It’s been dubbed “Delta Plus” and it’s spreading quickly in the United Kingdom. 

First of all, we know that viruses mutate. It’s really not surprising that the Delta variant has another descendent or sub-type.

The scientific name for “Delta Plus” is AY.4.2.

This sub-type has two mutations to the spike protein. The spike protein is what the virus uses to get into our cells. So, do these changes make the “Delta Plus” sub-type more transmissible? Let’s look at what’s going on in the United Kingdom. Right now, cases are rising. The UK is averaging forty to fifty thousand new infections a day – which is considered high for this country.

Experts tracking the AY.4.2 say this sub-type is increasing in frequency. As of Oct 15th, it made up 6% of sequenced cases in the UK - and that number is predicted to climb up even higher. Having said that, the AY.4.2 is pretty new, which means there’s not enough data to tell us exactly how transmissible it really is. However, some experts are estimating that it’s roughly 10 to 15% more transmissible than the standard Delta variant.

The “Delta Plus” mutation is here in the US. I’m aware of three cases – in California, North Carolina, and Washington, DC. The CDC – so far - has not found that this sub-type is increasing in frequency or causing any clusters. As for our vaccines and COVID treatments, we have not seen evidence that any of these have lost effectiveness.

Also, the “Delta Plus” has not been classified as a “Variant of Concern." However, I must stress again, that it’s a new mutation. Its status could change if we start seeing more of it in sequenced cases. But please don’t be alarmed or worried about this - health experts here and in the UK will continue to closely monitor this “Delta Plus” to see what happens next. What’s important here, is to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you haven’t already.

If you fit into one of the groups allowed to get a booster shot, then please consider doing so. I got my booster shot because my job as a physician puts me at an increased risk for the virus. I’m a huge advocate for getting vaccinated and strongly recommend it.

With all of the diet trends out there, how do you decide what works best?  Join Dr. Partha Nandi this Sunday as he goes in search of answers. He talks with Candace Brisco who lost 135 pounds on the Keto diet and now coaches others on how to lose weight. You’ll also hear from the founder of a weight loss system for women, Kaelin Poulin, who shares how you can lose weight without giving up the foods you love.  Plus, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner Maggie Berghoff discusses a different approach to losing weight in a healthy manner. Tune in this Sunday, October 24th at 5 pm.

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