Coronavirus AY.4.2 Variant Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

6 Nov, 2021 16:08 IST|Sakshi Post

Hyderabad: Coronavirus has mutated into several avatars in a short time since its entrance last year, including the presumably contagious delta. AY.4.2, a 'lineage' of Coronaviruses, is the most recent addition to the vast list of Coronaviruses. The labels were provided to Covid evolutionary tree variations to show their relationship. There are now 75 known AY lineages, each with its own set of distinguishing mutations in the DNA. One of these strains, AY.4, has been rapidly increasing in prevalence in the UK in recent months, accounting for 63% of new UK cases in the last 28 days.

AY.4.2 has been detected in 42 nations so far, with the UK accounting for 96 per cent of all instances. It accounts for less than 0.5 per cent of all sequences discovered in the US to date, but it has been found in 33 states.

What Exactly Is It?

AY.4.2, a sub-lineage of AY.4, was first discovered in late September, but it appears to have originally appeared in the UK in June. It has two more mutations that impact the spike protein, Y145H and A222V. The spike protein is a crucial component of the virus's outer surface and the mechanism through which it enters cells.

This mutation is found in the spike protein's 'antigenic supersite,' which is a section of the protein that antibodies typically recognise and attack. This section of the spike protein has already been altered by a mutation in the delta's genetic material, and this may contribute to the delta's increased capacity to evade immunity by making antibodies more difficult to target.

What Was The Source Of It?

AY.4.2 may be dated back to April 2021. The researchers sequenced two samples that were linked to India because of their travel history.

The circulating lineage in India at the time was B.1.617, but the cases researchers collected did not match this. The World Health Organization later dubbed it 'delta' after classifying it as B.1.617.2, one of three main sub-lineages of B.1.617.

From here, ‘AY' is a stride ahead in development. When a lineage's labelling reaches the fifth level, a new letter combination is used to keep the name from becoming too lengthy.

So, despite their labelling, the 'AY' variants of the virus aren't all that different from what's come before. They're all 'delta' sub-lineages.

Is AY.4.2 A Danger?

Despite being introduced in multiple European nations, AY.4.2 has failed to gain traction, with the virus falling off the radar in Germany and Ireland — but it is still present in Denmark.

This suggests that its capacity to circumvent immunity isn't superior to the delta. Alternatively, it's possible that not enough AY.4.2 was delivered to these locations for it to take hold.

It's too soon to say whether this is the start of the next dominant lineage. However, its existence demonstrates the virus's ongoing need for genetic monitoring.

Is It More Easily Transmitted Than Delta?

Experts say it's still unknown if it's more transmissible or capable of bypassing whatever protection we might have gained via vaccination.

They have warned that the spread of the variation might be caused by a variety of causes, including government-mandated public health measures and adherence to such efforts.

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