Local officials keep eye on new COVID-19 delta plus sub-variant

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO – San Diego County public health officials are keeping watch on a new subtype of the delta COVID-19 variant, which is thought to be even more contagious.

The variation, known as AY.4.2 and more commonly referred to as “delta plus,” has been spotted in labs in at least eight states, including California, Washington and Nevada. In an interview last month, Centers for Disease Control Director and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said officials were watching the variant “very carefully.”

It’s showing up in the U.S. amid a worrying spike in delta plus cases recorded in the United Kingdom.

“I understand there may be a new variant of the delta virus,” City Council President Dr. Jennifer Campbell said, “and this is what we were afraid of without 95% vaccine coverage. We get these new variants.”

As of Monday, no such cases of the delta plus variant are being reported in San Diego County.

But since the pandemic began, the county has reported more than 378,000 COVID infections and nearly 4,300 deaths, including 433 new cases and four more deaths in Monday’s tally. The number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals recently has risen by five to 265, and the number of those patients in intensive care decreased by three to 80, state data shows.

The number of county residents who have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine is now nearly 2.57 million — or 81.7% of residents 5 and older. More than 2.32 million, or 73.8% are fully vaccinated.

Addressing the council’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Committee Monday, Dr. Jennifer Tuteur of San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency said the best way to beat new mutations from developing and spreading is through vaccinations.

“It may have 10-15% increase in transmissibility over the common delta that we’ve been seeing,” Tuteur said. “The longer that this virus goes on, the more that it can mutate and you know viruses want to be more transmissible.”

More information on COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites in the county is available online here.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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