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Here’s how many delta variant descendants there actually are

Concerns have risen lately about a delta variant subtype. It turns out there are several of them out there

The delta variant of the coronavirus.
Concerns have risen lately about a delta variant subtype. It turns out there are several of them out there.
Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

Scientists and experts have started to express concern about an emerging delta variant subtype that appears to be more transmissible than the original delta variant.

It turns out that the subtype is one of several others moving through our population.

What is the new delta variant?

Scientists across the world are keeping their eyes on a new delta variant subtype — titled AY.4.2, or “delta plus” according to some experts — that has led to higher COVID-19 cases in England, per Business Insider.

  • AY.4.2 is a subtype of the delta variant, which has been spreading rapidly around the world for much of 2021.

How many delta variants are there?

Per The Jerusalem Post, there are close to 56 descendants of the original delta variant of the novel coronavirus. All of these descendants are competing with each other to outlast the others.

  • The latest variant is actually a “grandchild” of the original delta variant strain, experts told The Jerusalem Post.
  • “AY4.2 is a descendant of AY4, a grandson of the Delta variant,” said Cyrille Cohen, head of the immunology lab at Bar-Ilan University, per The Jerusalem Post.

How do we stop the new delta variant?

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said last weekend that the world needs to research the subtype quickly in order to stop it from spreading too fast.

  • “We need urgent research to figure out if this delta plus is more transmissible, has partial immune evasion,” Gottlieb said in a tweet.
  • “There’s no clear indication that it’s considerably more transmissible, but we should work to more quickly characterize these and other new variants. We have the tools.”