BREAKING! New Worrisome Delta Sub-Variant Found In Sri Lanka-AY.104 Could Be More Transmissible Than AY.4.2 And More Virulent And Immune Evasive!
Sri Lanka health authorities in the last 36 hours have reported the emergence of a new worrisome Delta sub-variant called AY.104 that some local physicians and medical academics are saying could be even more transmissible than the AY.4.2 Delta variant and could be more virulent and immune evasive.
Already the Delta AY.4.2 variant is believed to be 10 to 15 percent more transmissible than the original Delta variant. Should this Delta AY.104 subvariant be even more transmissible and immune evasive, it could change the course of the pandemic.
This new Delta sub-variant is believed to the third variant that originated in Sri Lanka to date. The other two were the B.411, which is a lineage of the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 virus, the second was Delta sub-variant AY.28.
The new Delta AY.104
sub-lineage was detected by the researchers at University of Sri Jayewardenepura. The government varsity's Director, Molecular and Cell Biology Department, Dr Chandima Jeewadara said the new mutation takes the number of variants originating in the country to three.
In the last few weeks Sri Lanka was witnessing a new uptick in cases and infections were rising fast along with the fact that many were breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals and many had high viral loads upon hospital admission and also were suffering from moderate to severe conditions. Many required ICU critical care and ventilators.
This prompted local physicians to request the genomic and virology experts from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to conduct detailed sequencings.
The new Delta AY.104 viral samples have also been send to Hong Kong for further studies and the WHO and U.S. CDC have been informed of the new developments as in the last 24 hours.
Already the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant is highly transmissible and was behind the rapid uptick in cases across the world, even in populations with high vaccination rates. The AY.4.2 delta sub-variant is also becoming of concern due to the high surge in cases in Europe where it originated from.
The new AY.104 could be of a concern for Asia as it is believed that the sub-variant could have already spread to India and elsewhere in Asia as there were cases of travelers originating form Sri Lanka testing positive in certain Asian countries.
The transmissibility and immune evasive details of sub-lineage AY.104 is yet to be confirmed. Officials said the samples of the sub-lineage have been sent to laboratories in Hong Kong for further analysis and studies.
Dr Jeewadara it was significant that the new variant had been detected in North, North-Central and Southern provinces of Sri Lanka in areas reporting new surges, breakthrough infections and disease severity.
The other indigenous COVID-19 strains were detected in Western Province (capital Colombo).
Dr Jeewadara said the discovery was made after tests were conducted on random samples based on request from local physicians who were worried. It was found that 288 samples were confirmed for AY.104 variant while 479 tested positive for AY.28 variant.
Dr Jeewadara added, "It shows us that the virus is mutating in different ways and is spreading differently in each area.&a
He added that further details would be made available after the reports were released by the laboratories in Hong Kong.
Sri Lanka health authorities meanwhile have warned of fresh COVID-19 clusters forming in the North-Central and Southern provinces.
Sri Lanka’s Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath told Thailand Medical News, "This has been caused by the failure to adhere to health guidelines. Numerous public events and functions had been held without following health requirements. "
Sri Lankas’s health minister Keheliya Rambukwella said over 75 per cent of the population over 16 years of age and 61.8 per cent of the total population have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
He added, "The booster shot is being administered to those over 60 years as we speak."
It was reported that over 160,000 Sri Lankans over 60 years have received the Pfizer-BioNTech jab as a third or booster dose as of Friday. Sri Lankas’s health minister Keheliya Rambukwella made an appeal against vaccine hesitancy in some parts of the country.
To date the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has claimed 14,072 lives, along with 554,459 confirmed cases, in the country, the health ministry had said in an update on Thursday.
On Friday, Sri Lanka reported 745 new COVID-19 cases and 14 deaths, taking the overall death toll to 14,086.
Thailand Medical News will continue to update readers about the new Delta AY.104 variant once details emerge.