Scientists today called for calm over the emergence of the potentially vaccine-resistant ‘Delta plus’ variant, claiming that there are no signs it will take off in the UK.
India upgraded the strain – sometimes known as AY.1, or the Nepal variant – to a ‘variant of concern’ amid fears it is better at escaping jabs than the original Delta version. But one of the UK’s top genetics experts said the development was not a ‘particular cause of concern’ because the mutant strain has been in Britain for months and has shown no signs of outcompeting other strains.
Professor Francois Balloux, director of University College London’s Genetics Institute, said: ‘Cases of Delta+ in the UK remain at a very low level.
‘The first case was observed on April 28th 2021. The lineage has remained at very low frequency since with no sign of expansion. ‘It has been found in several countries but has remained at extremely low frequency, with the exception of Nepal.’
He admitted that ‘nothing’ is known about how transmissible, vaccine-resistant or deadly the new strain is.