AY.4.2 and Russian Delta: what is known about new strains of coronavirus and how to treat the infected

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AY.4.2 and Russian Delta: what is known about new strains of coronavirus and how to treat the infected
AY.4.2 and Russian Delta: what is known about new strains of coronavirus and how to treat the infected
21 October 2021, 18:53Science
In Russia, cases of infection with a new strain of coronavirus have been identified. AY.4.2 is recognized as a delta variety, but is superior in infectivity to all previous varieties. Novye Izvestia tried to figure out, what is dangerous about the new type of Covid-19 and whether there is protection from it.

Irina Mishina

UK scientists were the first to sound the alarm. AY.4.2 was first identified there. It happened back in April. By the end of September, it accounted for 6% of UK samples studied, and this figure continues to rise. Why AY.4.2 is more infectious than the parental delta strain, scientists cannot yet explain, research continues.

Meanwhile, Russia already has the first candidate for AY.4.2. Its data was uploaded to the GISAID database by the Rospotrebnadzor laboratory. It is known that a sample was taken from a patient in Tver on 23 September. A 69-year-old man, symptoms - cough, fever.

The spread of the new British strain in Russia will be monitored. However, it should be added that in our country the virus genomes are still sequenced several times less than in the West, although there are opportunities for this and the technical equipment is no worse. For example, on Monday, the Rospotrebnadzor laboratory unloaded more than a hundred fresh samples from Moscow and the regions into the database.

By the way, scientists have also identified the so-called "Russian delta". It is characterized by mutations NS7a_P45L and NSP2_K81N. This strain was first discovered in January this year in Slovakia. A month later, the strain spread to neighboring countries, got to Turkey. In April he was found in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In Russia, he immediately began to dominate and spawned his own lines. Its share now reaches 80%. It has also been found in Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The "Russian delta" still does not have its own name. For it to appear, bioinformatics must submit an application to the Pangolin system, the coronavirus nomenclature registry. Genomic data must be passed through a set of programs. But we are late again...

What can you say about the new Covid-19 strain now? Novye Izvestia turned to the most authoritative scientists in this field - biologists and virologists.

"Strain" Delta "is generally more dangerous than others in terms of its high lethality. So far, we can say about the new strain that it is more dangerous in its infectiousness. If one infected person appears, it can transmit covid to a very large number of people”, - said virologist, doctor of medical sciences, professor Anatoly Alshtein.

“A carrier of this strain is potentially dangerous to more people than a patient with the usual“ delta ”. For example: if someone infected with the AY.4.2 strain passes by, most likely all the people around him will become infected. It "sticks" to a person better. Its protein, which interacts with receptors, penetrates them much faster. This is comparable to the measles virus: it is enough for one sick person to walk in the entrance, as the entire entrance becomes infected. Coronavirus, mutating, can also become the same as measles in its infectiousness", - explained to Novye Izvestia the head of laboratory of the Institute of Molecular Biology, academician Pyotr Chumakov.

Any virus tends to mutate. But the question today is where Covid-19 will eventually come after its transformation. “The scientific world knows a case when a woman with a coronavirus mutated up to 40 times within 300 days. The patient had peculiarities of the immune system, she was difficult to treat. But Covid-19 mutates more slowly than the influenza virus, so it is quite possible to "adapt" to it and find a treatment. You just need to more often sequenced viruses and study them", - says Professor, Doctor of Medical Sciences Nikolay Malyshev.

Question number one for today is how to protect yourself from a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus - AY.4.2. In an interview with Sputnik radio, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, epidemiologist Vadim Pokrovsky noted that the new type of delta strain is primarily dangerous for those Russians who have not yet been vaccinated and have not had Covid-19. According to him, "the new virus affects the part of the population that does not have immune protection."

“There are two ways of protection today: vaccination and social distance in public places. The most effective protection is "Sputnik". I lead an active lifestyle, travel by public transport, participate in press conferences, work, vaccinated and revaccinated and never got sick during the entire time of the pandemic", - Professor, Doctor of Medicine Nikolai Malyshev told Novye Izvestia.

However, the question arises: will the current vaccines be effective against new mutations in Covid-19? After all, initially most of them were made for the original version of the Wuhan strain, which is now practically supplanted by other varieties of coronavirus.

“Vaccines do not absolutely affect the strain. If a person has been vaccinated, this does not mean that he is 100% protected. He may get sick, but the course of the disease will be mild. According to statistics, vaccinated people tolerate the delta strain without any problems if they become infected. A severe course in vaccinated people occurs in isolated cases, and this is usually due to the peculiarities of the immune system or the presence of severe chronic diseases that affect the immune response. As for the new strain, as far as I know, the current vaccines against it are quite effective, there is still protection against it. But it must be borne in mind that while the pandemic continues and the virus mutates, at some stage a strain may arise against which vaccines will be powerless. Therefore, all new strains must be carefully studied, " Academician Pyotr Chumakov told NI.

We asked scientists for their opinion on the low level of vaccination in Russia compared to European countries: how much this factor can affect the spread of new strains. It is noteworthy that the tone of opinions on this matter has changed dramatically. If earlier, many scientists called vaccination a personal matter of everyone, his right and choice, today, after the appearance of a new, more infectious strain, expert opinions have changed.

“People are not vaccinated, saying that this is their own business. The morbidity situation in Russia today has reached such a scale that it is comparable to war and martial law. And this is no longer a personal matter for everyone. An unvaccinated person is a potential source of infection for tens and hundreds of others. In such a situation, in my opinion, something like a general mobilization in terms of vaccination should happen. Yes, we all love and respect freedom. But there is no freedom at the expense of others, it is already called in a different way, ”says academician Pyotr Chumakov.

Doctor of Medical Sciences Nikolay Malyshev agrees with him:

“Recently, several points of mass sale of counterfeit certificates have been identified. What can I say? I personally knew several people who bought vaccination certificates and flaunted it in front of colleagues and friends. And then they were buried ... ”.

“There are two ways of protection today: vaccination and social distance in public places. The most effective protection is "Sputnik". I lead an active lifestyle, travel by public transport, participate in press conferences, work, vaccinated and revaccinated and never got sick during the entire time of the pandemic, "Professor, Doctor of Medicine Nikolai Malyshev told NI.

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