MOSCOW, Oct. 21 (Reuters) – Russia has reported “isolated cases” of COVID-19 with a subvariant of the Delta variant believed to be even more contagious, the senior researcher for the state consumer watchdog said Thursday.
The researcher, Kamil Khafizov, said the AY.4.2 subvariant could be about 10% more infectious than the original Delta — which has driven new cases and deaths to a series of daily record highs in Russia — and could eventually replace it.
However, he said this will likely be a slow process.
“The vaccines are effective enough against this version of the virus, which is not so different as to drastically alter the ability to bind to antibodies,” he said.
The AY.4.2 subvariant is also on an increasing trajectory in England and already accounted for about 6% of all sequences generated in the week of Sept. 27, according to a UK Health Security Agency report released Oct. 15. released. read more
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Wednesday there is no reason to believe the subvariant poses a greater threat than Delta.
Russian immunologist Nikolay Kryuchkov said Delta and its subvariants would remain dominant and could adapt in some way to vaccines in the future, especially when vaccination rates are below or just above 50%.
“But it seems to me that a revolutionary leap is not going to happen because the coronavirus, like any organism, has an evolutionary limit and the evolutionary leap has already happened,” he said.
The Russian Ministry of Health had no immediate comment.
The mayor of Moscow on Thursday announced the strictest lockdown measures since June last year, a day after President Vladimir Putin approved a government proposal for a weekly workplace closure in early November. [L1N2RH0MC] read more
Reporting by Maxim Rodionov, Polina Nikolskaya and Angelina Kazakova; Written by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Giles Elgood
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