A variant of the coronavirus, AY.4.2, also known as Delta Plus, seems highly transmissible but may not be lethal, News18 reported, quoting an Indian Council of Medical Research scientist on Tuesday. Seventeen samples of AY.4.2 have been detected in India till date.

AY.4.2 is an offshoot of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“It [the AY.4.2 variant] can be more transmissible [or infectious] considering that the virus does that for its own survival as it needs more hosts,” said ICMR’s Head of Epidemology Department Samiran Panda. “However, it is difficult to say that it will be more virulent.”

Panda added that there should not be panic because of the new coronavirus variant. He recommended that citizens instead follow Covid-appropriate behaviour in public spaces. “There is no room for complacency,” he said.

The ICMR official also said that cluster-based studies would define the characteristics of the AY.4.2 variant, News18 reported.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that the AY.4.2 variant was being studied by ICMR and National Centre of Disease Control, ANI reported. “It would be wrong to say how contagious it is now,” he said at a press conference in Delhi. “Let the variant be investigated.”

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot asked the Centre on Monday to “learn from previous experiences” and prepare standard operating protocols to check the spread of the AY.4.2 variant, the Hindustan Times reported. “Initially, there were only a few cases of the Delta variant but it did not take time to spread across the country,” he said.

Delta Plus prominent in UK

The United Kingdom Health Security Agency on Sunday said that the AY.4.2 variant had become increasingly common in the country, the BCC reported. The health agency moved the variant to the “under investigation” category.

American scientist Eric Topol on Sunday also said that AY.4.2 variant of the coronavirus has been spreading across the United Kingdom. “The Delta variant sub-lineage AY.4.2, also known as Delta Plus, has given rise concern with its sequence found in ~ [used to denote approximately] 10% of recent UK cases,” he tweeted.