An expert has warned that there may be a number of ‘Deltacrons’ in circulation across the globe.
Concerns were raised by epidemiologists earlier this month when virologists from L’Institut Pasteur in Paris submitted full genomic sequencing of a ‘Deltacron’ variant to GSAID, the international Covid database.
The strain, which is said to be hybrid of the Delta and Omicron variants of Covid, has been found in multiple countries – with some even identified in the UK.
Professor Luke O’Neill, from the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, notes that the sequences reported in the UK and US differ to the ones discovered in other countries.
He has also warned that the next variant of concern could be ‘more dangerous’ than Omicron.
“Variants crop up randomly, and new ones have the potential to be more dangerous than previous ones”, Professor O’Neill wrote in The Conversation.
“Another has just arrived, and is currently going by the name of Deltacron. It is – as you can probably guess – a hybrid of Delta and Omicron, the two variants most dominant recently.”
He continued: “There may, however, be different Deltacrons.
“Scientists at the Institut Pasteur have said Deltacron sequences reported in the UK and US have certain differences from those found in other countries.
“They’ve said that it might be necessary to add a number to these different forms of Deltacron, to indicate which is which.”
The professor also went on to say that it is ‘not unusual’ for viruses to mix in this way – which is known as “recombination”.
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“Recombination usually creates a new virus that isn’t viable, as the mixing of different genes can interfere with the virus’s ability to make the proteins it needs to survive”, Professor O’Neill writes.
“But sometimes one does survive, and that appears to be what’s happened with Deltacron.
“Indeed, as the Deltacron hybrids found in the US/UK appear to be different from those found in mainland Europe, it’s possible that this has happened multiple times separately.”
It currently remains unclear if any of the UK cases of Deltacron have been found in Scotland.
Scotland has seen a recent resurgence of Covid cases thanks to the BA.2 variant, which is also known as stealth Omicron.
Nicola Sturgeon last week suggested that BA.2 accounts for around 80 per cent of all new daily cases in the country.
There has so far been no evidence to suggest that stealth Omicron is more severe or more likely to evade vaccine protection than the original Omicron strain, BA.1.
The number of people in hospital with Covid in Scotland has risen to its highest level seen during the pandemic. But intensive care admissions are yet to take a significant spike amid the rise in infections.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.