One case of Delta COVID subvariant AY.4.2 detected in Singapore
British man tests positive for AY.4.2 Delta subvariant after arriving in Taiwan
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The Taiwanese Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday (Oct. 29) announced the first imported COVID-19 case infected with the “Delta Plus” subvariant of the Delta strain in the country, local media reported.
Philip Lo, deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, announced Taiwan’s first imported case of the AY.4.2 subvariant, more commonly known as “Delta Plus.” According to Lo, case No. 16,479 is a British man in his 50s who arrived on Oct. 22.
Because Taiwan deems the U.K. to be a high-risk country, the man was immediately transported to a quarantine center, where he was tested for the virus. The test came back positive for COVID-19 with a Ct value of 19. Genomic sequencing revealed that the man is infected with the Delta Plus subvariant. He is currently being kept in a hospital isolation ward.
Lo pointed out that because he had received two doses of the Prizer-BioNTech vaccine, he is classified as a breakthrough infection. Thus far, as he is asymptomatic and was in isolation at the time of diagnosis, there is little threat of community transmission, said Lo.
“There are currently 42 countries around the world that have reported Delta Plus cases, including the U.K, the U.S., Canada, and Australia. In Asia, Israel, Thailand, and Singapore have recently reported cases”, he added.
Lo said that the global understanding of this virus is quite limited. It is only known that the subvariant is 10% more transmissible than the original Delta strain, according to Lo.
As for the efficacy of vaccines against the subvariant, further research is needed, according to Lo.
In Singapore, the country has recorded at least one case of a Delta coronavirus subvariant, believed to be more contagious than the dominant strain currently circulating here.
The Ministry of Health confirmed that one imported case was infected with the subvariant, also known as AY.4.2, but added that there is no evidence of spread to the community.
“While its effects are still being studied, AY.4.2 is currently expected to be similar to other Delta subvariants in terms of transmissibility and severity of illness,” said the health ministry in its reply on Thursday (28 October) night.
The ministry did not elaborate on the case’s current status or when it was detected.
According to data aggregator site outbreak.info, one case with the AY.4.2 subvariant, yet to be considered a “variant of concern”, was detected in the city-state on 8 September.
The site extrapolates information from the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), the world’s largest database of novel coronavirus genome sequences.
Deputy director of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control Luo Yi-jun had also made reference to the subvariant being present in Singapore during a press conference.
UK authorities said last week that it was monitoring the subvariant, which makes up 6 per cent of all analysed COVID-19 cases in the country for the week beginning 27 September and is “on an increasing trajectory”.
Around 22,000 such cases have been detected in the UK and some 40 other countries, according to outbreak.info. A number of isolated cases of the subvariant have been detected in Russia, Israel, and the US.
Also read: Number of coronavirus cases in the UK increases, Russia sets another new high for deaths
UK and Russian experts have said the AY.4.2 may be some 10 per cent more infectious than the original Delta variant, the main driver behind COVID-19 surges across the world, and could ultimately replace it.
But there is no evidence yet that it has caused more severe disease or rendered vaccines ineffective. The AY.4.2 has two mutations in its spike protein, which helps the coronavirus to invade the body’s cells.
These changes have also been seen in other variants but have not gone very far, said Francois Balloux, director of the Genetics Institute at University College London, in a Reuters report.