Scientists are looking to understand the role of people with compromised immune systems in the origin of new variants (representative image). Photograph:( Others )
The scientists are confident that the existing vaccines should still work well and should be able to protect people
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has recently said that the new mutated form of coronavirus, being termed as ‘Delta Plus’, may spread more easily than the regular Delta variant. It has been moved up to the "variant under investigation" category, to reflect this possible risk.
The scientists are confident that the existing vaccines should still work well and should be able to protect people.
As of now, the delta variant still accounts for most COVID-19 infections in the UK. However, the cases of 'Delta Plus' or AY.4.2 have been increasing. As per the official data, 6 per cent of the COVID-19 cases are of this type.
The experts have said that it is unlikely to take off in a big way or escape current vaccines. However, the officials say that there is some early evidence that it may have an increased growth rate in the UK compared to Delta.
UKHSA said, "This sub-lineage has become increasingly common in the UK in recent months, and there is some early evidence that it may have an increased growth rate in the UK compared to Delta."
AY.4.2 is an offshoot of Delta that includes some new mutations affecting the spike protein. Other mutations, including, Y145H and A222V, have been found in various other coronavirus lineages since the beginning of the pandemic.
A few cases have been identified in the US. Also, there had been some cases in Denmark, but new infections with AY.4.2 have since gone down there.
The UK is already offering booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to higher risk people ahead of winter.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UKHSA, was quoted by The BBC as saying, "The public health advice is the same for all current variants. Get vaccinated and, for those eligible, come forward for your third or booster dose as appropriate as soon as you are called.
"Continue to exercise caution. Wear a mask in crowded spaces and, when meeting people indoors, open windows and doors to ventilate the room. If you have symptoms take a PCR test and isolate at home until you receive a negative result."