Expert: AY.4.2 not more dangerous that original Delta variant

Expert: AY.4.2 not more dangerous that original Delta variant

The new COVID-19 sub-variant - AY.4.2 - is not more dangerous that its original variant Delta, as there is no reliable data that it has higher transmissibility and cannot be neutralized by immunity defenses, Vladimir Gushchin, the head of the Gamaleya Center’s laboratory of population variability mechanisms of pathogens, said on Wednesday.

"In fact, AY.4.2 is one of the lineages, which is Delta’s two extra mutations. Now it is not important for us, and it is not a big deal. We have no facts right now to claim that this variant is really spreading better or faster," he said.

"We cannot say at the moment that somehow it poses a threat to us. Again, there is no data to say that this variant is capable of avoiding existing immunity [defenses]," he said on an educational program about vaccines.

Gushchin explained that those mutations usually affect one or two types of antibodies produced by human system to neutralize the virus, but there are many more varieties of effective antibodies.

"Those scarce alterations [of the virus] can have an impact on interaction between specific antibodies of one type or another, but a human being produces dozens of different antibodies that block the virus. So really these single alterations are not so critical so one can allege now that the virus completely evades immunity," he said.

Additionally, the expert pointed out that the Sputnik V COVID-19 jab shows, in general, a good level of protection against various mutations.

"We have several Russian publications on the vaccine’s effectiveness so far, including Argentina’s data on its efficacy. Both suggest that we have, indeed, a very high vaccine efficacy. We have very good antibody formation, but most importantly, we have high protectivity. That is, people who get Sputnik are at least six times less likely to catch the disease, ten times less likely to be hospitalized and 20 times less likely to die," the scientist said.

"In fact, it gives over 95% protection against death, 90% protection against hospitalization, and 80-85% protection against clinically manifested disease," Gushchin said, adding that he referred to protection against the Delta variant.