A subtype of COVID-19 Delta variant spreading in Western Canada: health workers

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A subtype of the COVID-19 variant is becoming predominant in Saskatchewan and is spreading across Western Canada, but health officials say it is not considered a critical variant.

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The subtype AY.25.1 probably originated in the Midwestern United States, where it mutated, said Dr. Jessica Minion, a medical microbiologist with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, who presented the information to a health authority meeting last week.

In Saskatchewan, AY-25.1 and another subtype, AY.27, largely displaced the original Delta variant. AY-25.1 is also spread interprovincially in Alberta and British Columbia.

Health officials across Western Canada say the subtype is no more contagious.

“There is no evidence that it causes more severe disease, that it avoids vaccine protection, that it is significantly different from the Delta variant that was circulating,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief health care physician, during COVID-19. . information meeting.

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“When viruses reproduce, they can change their genetics a little bit, so sometimes you have these subgenetics that evolve. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they behave differently than that parental strain, and that’s the case with this particular subgenus.”

Dr Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief health doctor, said the public should not read too much about the subtype.

“What we see is something that all jurisdictions see,” Shahab said.

“If any such trends emerge, we will report that to the public.”

Minion, who is a member of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network, said the Delta variety has branched out into new developmental trees around the world including the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia.

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“These evolutionary trees, which are still Delta, we call them AY various numbers,” Minion said.

“Having these different AY lineages does not necessarily imply any biological differences when we determine that it is a new lineage. All we’re saying is that there are stable new sequences in the virus code that have accumulated enough to make it noticeably different than what came before it. “

Saskatchewan controls the subgenus as required by international health regulations, but health officials reiterate that it is normal biology.

“Viruses don’t stay immobile, especially COVID, which every day gets billions of opportunities to evolve and mutate,” Minion said.

She said it is difficult for epidemiologists to sort out why AY.25.1 has become predominant in Saskatchewan.

Minion said the subtype could have more random mutations that make it more transmissible. Or it could be a “pure coincidence” because the virus could benefit from entry into a population that was largely unvaccinated and entered an overdose event.

Shahab said that while AY.25.1 has been observed, it would need to correlate to what health officials see regarding cases, hospitalizations and deaths, to be of concern.

“As long as we observe this very carefully, the principles remain the same; make sure you are vaccinated … follow public health measures. “

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