The new Deltacron variant, which is a hybrid of the Omicron and Delta strains, has been recognized by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) after it was identified in a UK patient
A new Covid variant that is a hybrid of the Omicron and Delta strains is officially being monitored by health chiefs.
The new variant – labeled Deltacron – has been identified in a UK patient and was named by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in its weekly “variants in monitoring” list.
The new variant is believed to have evolved in a patient who caught both the omicron and Delta variants at the same time.
The exact number of Deltacron cases is unknown, although scientists at this stage reportedly believe case numbers are ‘low’.
It’s also unclear how infectious or severe the newly evolved virus is, although the UK Health Security Agency said it was only listed on the weekly variant breakdown because “we monitor everything as a matter of course”.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that the new variant ‘shouldn’t pose too much of a threat’ because of the UK’s high vaccine uptake and strong levels of immunity against the original Delta and Omicron strains.
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“So at the moment I’m not overly worried at the moment. If both Delta and Omicron are falling then, in theory, this [variant] should struggle to take off,” he said.
The news comes after weekly case numbers showed Britain’s coronavirus situation is continuing to improve, with cases, deaths and hospitalizations all down compared to last week.
Latest figures show the country recorded another 58,899 coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, while the death toll has risen by 193.
The latest official figures, released by the Department for Health on Friday afternoon, show a 29% decrease on confirmed infections for this week compared to the previous seven days.
Case numbers have substantially dropped since peaking around New Year’s – with 245,182 recorded on January 4.
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However, the lag between catching Covid and falling ill, and then falling seriously ill and dying, means death rates were initially spiking in the weeks after.
Boris Johnson told MPs this week that he expects to end all restrictions, including the requirement to self-isolate following a positive test, this month – weeks earlier than scheduled.
Covid restrictions had been due to expire on March 24, but Mr Johnson told MPs he expects they can end a month sooner if the data continues to be encouraged.
It means in just over two weeks England could be returned to levels of freedom enjoyed before the pandemic, for the first time since restrictions were brought in almost two years ago.
But the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have warned lifting all restrictions will have a “disproportionate impact” on vulnerable people.
In minutes from the group’s meeting on Thursday, members warned: “Increased ambiguity about a requirement to self-isolate upon testing positive will also disproportionately impact vulnerable sections of the population.”
They also raised concerns about the consequences of removing access to free testing and called for “clear and consistent” messaging to the public about the ongoing risks.