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Former FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb, MD, Calls for Research into UK Surge of New Delta Plus Variant, AY.4.2


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AY.4.2 is "noted to be expanding in England", according to the UK Health Security Agency, and now makes up 6% of new cases. It's an offshoot of the Delta variant that has been dominant since earlier this year.

Reports in the US have suggested concern about AY.4.2, particularly with international travel between the UK and the States due to resume from November.

AY.4.2 cases remain rare outside the UK. There have been only three cases detected in the US so far.

In Denmark, cases reached a 2% frequency, but this has since decreased.

Scott Gottlieb, former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner, suggested AY.4.2 made up 8% of all cases sequenced in the UK.

He tweeted on Sunday: "UK reported its biggest one-day Covid case increase in 3 months just as the new delta variant AY.4 with the S:Y145H mutation in the spike reaches 8% of UK sequenced cases.

"We need urgent research to figure out if this delta plus is more transmissible, has partial immune evasion? The variant has been in the UK since about July, but it has been slowly increasing in prevalence.

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Why is the UK in this mess?

Experts say there are a variety of reasons for the U.K.’s steep Covid numbers — ranging from the half-hearted mask adoption (even when masks are required, such as on public transport, the rule is rarely enforced) to large indoor gatherings that have allowed the virus to spread.

The U.K.‘s hesitation in vaccinating younger teenagers, something that other countries in Europe and the U.S. did much earlier, and the return to schools in September, have also been cited as reasons for the sharp rise in cases. Although the boom in infections among 0-18 year olds is now ebbing as infections rise in their parents’ generation, data shows.

Ironically, the U.K.’s early vaccination rollout — which began in December 2020 and was one of the first in the world — is also seen as contributing to its high case rate now because we know — due to an increasing body of data — that immunity in vaccinated people wanes after about six months. To date, 78.9% of the U.K. population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated, official data shows.


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