British Columbia’s top doctor says that a new sub-lineage of the COVID-19 Delta variant has been discovered in the province.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon. She was joined by Health Minister Adrian Dix.
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“Today, I’d like to report that we’ve had our first confirmed cases of the AY4.2,” she said during the press conference. “So this is one of the Delta sub-lineages. And we talked last week about the fact that as the virus replicates and infects more people, it mutates.”
This specific mutation has been found in the UK and is not yet a variant of concern. Currently, there are approximately 120 different sub-lineages of the Delta strain around the world.
Henry says that in BC and across the west, the dominant Delta strains are AY25 and Ay27. The two sub-lineages, discovered in BC in June, now account for approximately two-thirds of the province’s cases. She also adds that the mutation of a virus isn’t unexpected.
“All viruses mutate; we know that,” Henry says. “And the development of these new lineages which are unique to geographic areas are really expected overtime when we have [an] ongoing transmission in our communities.”
“We are watching closely, particularly with these new cases of AY4.2… It’s not yet its own variant of concern.
Health officials are continuing to do whole genome sequencing and making sure that they’re aware of what strains are circulating in BC.
“What we’re looking for is whether these variants of interest and concern are spreading more quickly or making people sicker,” Henry says. “And of course, we’re watching more carefully if they’re associated with less effectiveness of the vaccine.”
She stresses that our “best line of defence,” is still getting immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine.
More to come…