What scientists know so far about the Deltacron

If you are wondering why this virus sounds familiar, the answer is simple. The Deltacron variant is a combination of the Delta and Omicron variants of coronavirus. This is possible by the process scientists call recombination.  Recombination seems to happen at random during any viral replication of a virus.

When a transfer of power from one viral variant to another occurs, both variants begin circulating in the population and there’s a chance for them to simultaneously infect people – the chance of recombination happening rises. This would have been the problem as omicron emerged to displace delta as a dominant form worldwide.

Recombination mostly creates a new virus that isn’t viable, as the mixing of different genes would interfere with a virus’s ability to make the proteins it needs to survive. But sometimes one of the variants survives, and that appears to be what’s happened with deltacron.

Today, even though Covid restrictions are being lifted and freedom of movement is being restored in many countries, there is a common feeling that the pandemic is over and a very significant concern that a dangerous new variant could emerge.

This occurred when omicron arrived but thankfully it didn’t cause an increase in serious disease in most countries where it is dominant.

Currently,  it is hard to say what ways Deltacron will resemble the Delta and Omicron viruses. Delta and omicron differ in how they infect cells and how they evade immunity. We still don’t know enough about deltacron to be able to tell how different it’s going to be either.

Time will tell if deltacron will supersede omicron or if deltacron will be any better at avoiding immunity and if it will cause more severe disease. There are currently very few Deltacron cases to draw any conclusions on the issue of infection and immunity.

What would help determine this would be experiments.  These experiments would be able to determine the properties of deltacron. Some scientists have started this process and have been able to infect cells with it, so hopefully, we will have answers pretty soon

For the time being, health stakeholders and governments need to keep an eye on the development surrounding this new variant. The fact that deltacron has begun to spread across borders further emphasizes the need to strengthen the ongoing genomic surveillance to keep tabs on how the virus is transforming and spreading. As this variant of coronavirus continues to spread widely and infect large numbers of people, it’s likely that more variants will emerge – including through recombination.

We can, though, be relatively confident that previous infection with other variants, as well as vaccination, will offer protection from serious disease should deltacron start to dominate. We also know that vaccines, which are based on the original Wuhan strain of the virus, also protect from severe disease with the more recent variants. Time will tell if the delta and omicron have produced a wild card every country should be worried about.

Where has Deltacron been identified?

Samples of deltacron have been identified in Europe. As of March, there have been  36 samples of deltacron reported in France, eight in Denmark and one in Germany, one in Belgium, and one in the Netherlands, according to GISAID.

What next?

Irrespective of lift on restrictions, individuals should ensure they still carry out necessary precautionary measures like maintaining social distance, masking up, hand washing, and most importantly, ensuring they get vaccinated.

Should they show symptoms of coronavirus, they should ensure they carry out all necessary Coronavirus tests and make sure you isolate should test results come out positive.

The journey to achieve a Covid-free world begins with all of us. Together we can!

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