Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

New COVID delta variant strain AY.4.2 found in Fraser Health, not travel related: Henry

Strain is more transmissible, but vaccines still work against it, PHO says

A mutation of the delta variant of COVID-19 has been found in B.C., provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed during a press conference Tuesday (Nov. 16).

The variant, dubbed AY4.2, was found in a single family cluster in Fraser Health. According to Henry, there are currently three cases, the first in B.C. that are not travel-related and their origin is being investigated through contact tracing. An interim report from the UK Health Security Agency found that 10 per cent of recent cases are the AY4.2 strain.

Henry said that finding the variant, which is not yet named because it’s not a variant of concern, in B.C. is not surprising.

“This virus moves with people,” she said. “When we have a lot of transmission of the virus, it mutates.”

According to British health experts, the variant has two mutations in the spike protein, which helps it invade the body’s cells.

AY4.2 is considered more transmissible, but Henry said that vaccines will still work against it.

“We are re-looking at… what are the things we need to do, all of us, to get through these next few months, regardless of which new strains circulate,” Henry said, adding that all strains of the delta are highly transmissible.

especially in crowded, indoor environments

“We need to use every layer of protection, from staying away from others when we’re not feeling well ourselves or when we’ve been exposed to making sure that we’re vaccinated.”

READ MORE: B.C. moves to create protest ‘bubble zones’ for COVID-19 services

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@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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