COVID-19 Delta Variant Subtype Spreading in Western Canada – Health Officials | The Canadian News

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

Subtype AY.25.1 likely originated in the American Midwest, where it mutated, said Dr. Jessica Minion, a medical microbiologist with the Saskatchewan Health Authority who presented the information at a health authority meeting last week. .

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

Health officials in western Canada say the subtype is no longer contagious.

“There is no evidence that it causes a more serious disease, which evades the protection of the vaccine, that is significantly different from the Delta variant that has been circulating,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer for health, during a COVID-19 instructions.

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“When viruses replicate, they can change their genetics slightly, so sometimes you have these sub-lineages that evolve. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they behave differently from the parent strain, and that’s the case for this particular sublineage. “

Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s director of medical health, said the public shouldn’t read too much about the subtype.

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

“If a worrying trend emerges, we will bring it back to the public.”

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

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

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

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

“Viruses do not remain static, especially COVID, which receives billions of opportunities every day to evolve and mutate,” said Minion.

He said it is difficult for epidemiologists to understand why AY.25.1 has become predominant in Saskatchewan.

Minion said the subtype could have more adventitious mutations that make it more transmissible. Or it could be “pure chance” because the virus could benefit from entering a population that was largely unvaccinated and entered a super-spreading event.

Shahab said that while AY.25.1 has been observed, it should correlate with what health officials are seeing in terms of cases, hospitalizations and deaths to be a concern.

“While we watch this very closely, the principles remain the same; make sure you’re vaccinated … follow public health measures. “

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