BREAKING! New Delta Variant AY.122 Causing COVID-19 Surges With More Disease Severity and Deaths In Russia. More Concerning Than Omicron!
In the last 24 hours, Russia registered a total of 32,136 new COVID-19 infections and 1,184 deaths and local physicians are saying the actual cases could be far more higher as there is now limited testing capabilities due to a shortage of testing reagents and kits in the country over the last few weeks.
To date, the country has confirmed
of COVID-19 and 282,462 COVID-19 deaths, according to the national coronavirus information center. Russia’s total excess fatality count since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is at least 810,000.
In the last few weeks, local scientists and researchers were baffled by a sudden surge in cases that affected many that were fully vaccinated along with a higher prevalence of disease severity and the occurrence of viral loads upon hospital admission.
This propelled a team of researchers from Russian Academy of Sciences, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza, the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and the Lomonosov Moscow State University to further investigate.
Their study findings revealed that a new Delta variant named AY.122 was behind the new surges.
Russian scientists believe that the new AY.122
Delta subvariant has enhanced transmissibility, enhanced immune evasiveness and better replication potential hence resulting in rapid disease severity and higher mortality risk.
The study team used a phylogeographic approach to infer imports of Delta sublineages into Russia, and phylodynamic models to assess the rate of their spread.
Their study findings showed that nearly the entire Delta epidemic in Russia has probably descended from a single import event despite genetic evidence of multiple Delta imports.
Alarmingly over 90% of Delta samples in Russia are characterized by the nsp2:K81N+ORF7a:P45L pair of mutations which is rare outside Russia, putting them in the AY.122 sublineage.
Importantly the AY.122 lineage was frequent in Russia among Delta samples from the start of these new surges, and has not increased in frequency in other countries where it has been observed, suggesting that its high prevalence in Russia has probably resulted from a random founder effect.
The apartness of the genetic composition of the Delta epidemic in Russia makes Russia somewhat unusual, although not exceptional, among other countries.
Their study findings were published on a preprint server and is currently being peer reviewed. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.02.21267168v1
The study teams says that the success of the AY.122+ORF7a:P45L combination is probably not due to increased fitness.
The nsp2 is a rapidly evolving non-structural protein which was found to be localized to endosomes and viral replication-transcription complexes. Based on structural analysis and affinity purification mass spectrometry, it is thought to interact with multiple host p
roteins and mitochondrial RNA, and its suggested functions are engagement of mitochondria to viral replication sites and modulation of cellular endosomal pathway.
ORF7a has been shown to suppress BST2 protein that restricts the egress of viral particles from the cell. It was also shown to bind to CD14+ monocytes, which reduces their antigen representation capacity and triggers the production of proinflammatory cytokines. Nonsynonymous mutations in ORF7a contribute to SARS-CoV-2 clade success. C-terminal truncations of ORF7a are frequent and were shown to affect viral replication.
These findings suggest that the new variant has better replication capabilities and is also better at disarming the human host immune system.
The study team warns that further studies are warranted on this new Delta subvariant.
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