Scientists are closely monitoring a new coronavirus mutation that is currently spreading through the United Kingdom. The new variant, named AY.4.2, is a subtype of the Delta variant and could be between 10% and 15% more infectious.
The U.K. is dealing with a recent surge in cases and is now reporting close to 50,000 new COVID-19 infections every day. While scientists haven't said that the increase is caused by the new variant, they see a growing number of people infected with it.
AY.4.2. was identified in July and now represents between seven and eight percent of all COVID cases in the country.
"Because delta has now been the dominant mutant in several regions for some six months and not been displaced by any other variants, the hope has been that delta perhaps represented peak mutation performance achievable by the virus. AY.4 may be starting to raise doubts about this assertion," Altmann said.
There have only been a few cases of the AY.4.2 variant reported in the U.S., but officials warn that it could spread among unvaccinated populations, resulting in another surge in cases.