The Phoenix Flyer

A new version of the Delta variant has been spreading globally; it’s been detected in FL

By: - November 4, 2021 4:55 pm

This is an image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The virus is now creating mutations that are spreading in the United States and elsewhere. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Lab

By now, Floridians are likely familiar with the Delta variant, which is highly contagious, spreads faster and causes more COVID-19 infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Not widely known is a new strain of the Delta variant. It’s called AY.4.2. — sometimes called Delta plus — and it’s in Florida, among other states.

The World Health Organization (WHO) described AY.4.2. in part as  “new branches of the COVID-19 evolutionary tree,” and has “three additional mutations,” according to a late October epidemiological update on COVID-19. And the new strain has spread to at least 42 countries, according to WHO.

How the new strain will act has become a focus of epidemiologists, virologists and other health officials and scientists, as well as media outlets.

According to the Associated Press, “Scientists are monitoring the delta-related variant — known as AY.4.2. — to see if it might spread more easily or be more deadly than previous versions of the coronavirus.”

CBS reported earlier this week that “a potentially faster-spreading ‘sub-lineage’ of the coronavirus Delta variant named AY.4.2 has been spotted by labs in at least 8 states, and health authorities in the United Kingdom say they are investigating a growing share of cases from this strain of the virus.

“Labs in California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Washington state, plus the District of Columbia, have so far spotted at least one case of AY.4.2.”

However, another analysis shows a larger AY.4.2. number: Ten states and the District of Columbia. That analysis comes from a “mutation tracker” from the website.

The 10 states listed are Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Nevada, Maryland, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Washington state, California and Florida, plus Washington D.C.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.