Fears of 'violent' delta offshoot arise in Israel with 10 new cases of AY.3 reported


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Medical personnel at the coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on December 17, 2020.
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90Medical personnel at the coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on December 17, 2020.

Delta plus variant potentially better at escaping immune system, research shows

The Israeli Health Ministry is investigating 10 new cases in the country of a "violent" offshoot of the COVID-19 delta variant, Channel 13 news reports.

The 10 cases of the AY.3 strain were detected on Thursday with eight infected people returning from abroad and two infected in Israel.

Delta plus variants have a mutation in the spike protein also found in the beta and gamma variants that may help to evade antibodies. A report by the Indian Council of Medical Research found that AY.3 in particular is potentially better at escaping the immune system.

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According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the delta variant is about twice as infectious as the original coronavirus strain and 60 percent more contagious than the alpha variant.

The AY.3 sublineage of the delta variant accounts for approximately 15 percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States and has been detected in at least 61 countries.

As of August 10, 17,792 sequences of the AY.3 strain had been detected.

Of more concern is the lambda variant, also known as C.37, which is wreaking havoc in South America and has been identified in the US. 

“If it reaches Israel, we will get to the lockdown that we so desperately want to avoid,” Dr Asher Salmon, director of the Health Ministry’s Department of International Relations, told the Knesset (Israel Parliament) Law and Constitution Committee recently.

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged Israelis to get vaccinated at a Tuesday press conference, saying that another lockdown would "destroy the future of the country."