India’s Covid genomic surveillance project is on high alert after cases of a sublineage of SARS CoV 2’s delta variant have been detected in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

According to a report, seven cases of this new variant were detected in Indore in a genome sequencing report released from the National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC). Out of seven, two people infected are Army officers posted in the Mhow Cantonment, said Indore chief medical and health officer Dr BS Saitya.

The new Delta AY.4 variant has been detected in 1 per cent samples in Maharashtra.

The scientists have indicated that the new variant may be more contagious and even more transmissible than the delta strain. The new variant, called AY. 4.2, has now been declared as the ‘variant under Investigation’ in the UK.

The AY.4.2 delta sub lineage accounted for approximately 6 per cent of all sequences generated, on an increasing trajectory, the health agency said in its report.

“Delta remains the predominant variant… a Delta sub lineage newly-designated as AY.4.2 is noted to be expanding in England. It is now a signal in monitoring and assessment has commenced,” the report said.

AY.4.2, dubbed “Delta Plus” and now named VUI-21OCT-01 by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), has been under closer scrutiny in recent days after evidence indicated that it spread more quickly than the dominant Delta variant.

The NCDC report said that the sub-lineage had caused the Covid surge in Indore district in September when the Covid-19 infections had jumped by 64 per cent in August.

The UKHSA has been examining all available data relating to variants of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, in the UK – where daily infection rates remain high.

“More evidence is needed to know whether this is due to changes in the virus’ behaviour or to epidemiological conditions,” UKHSA said.

The AY.4.2 belongs to the same family of mutations that define the B.1.617.2, or Delta, variant of the novel coronavirus that was first identified in India in October last year. The new Delta variant fuelled the second wave of cases in the country.

AY.4.2 variant: All you need to know

  • Potentially a marginally more contagious strain.
  • Belongs to the same family of mutations that define the B.1.617.2, or Delta
  • There is no clear indication that it is considerably more transmissible than Delta variant
  • Not a big threat like Alpha and Delta variants
  • AY.4.2, dubbed “Delta Plus” and now named VUI-21OCT-01
  • Now declared as the ‘variant under Investigation’ in the UK