“Deltacron” has been officially identified as a coronavirus variant.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued an update on the strain, with cases discovered in France, the Netherlands, Denmark and the US.
Deltacron is a Covid strain that combines parts of Delta and Omicron.
On Tuesday, March 8, virologists from L’Institut Pasteur in Paris submitted the full genomic sequencing of a ‘Deltacron’ variant to GSAID, the international covid database, which confirmed the strain as a variant.
The WHO is ‘tracking and discussing the variant’ following research into the strain.
This mutation was “to be expected, especially with intense circulation of Omicron & Delta”, said Maria van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid technical lead.
A cluster of cases have been found in France and a WHO briefing on March 9 confirmed cases in Netherlands and Denmark.
Last month, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported one case of Delta x Omicron had been discovered in the UK, developed by a person who had contracted both variants, Sky News reports.
However, more details on Deltacron’s prevalence in the UK is to be reported in a briefing on Friday.
It follows a warning by the head of the UKHSA that the pandemic is ‘not over’.
Aris Katzourakis, professor of evolution and genomics at the University of Oxford, said: “It is one to keep an eye on. This one is legit.”
Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, said: “Whilst it doesn’t seem to have taken off as a dominant strain yet, this could be due to a very slow start based upon seeding density – the number of initial cases ,” he said.
“There are multiple scenarios that can play out here in terms of what this means for people who become infected as this combination of viral proteins may behave differently to either parent.
“The French cluster appears to be a validated occurrence where a recombination event has given rise to a virus fit enough to circulate.”
The ZOE Covid Symptom Study estimates around 175,000 people are catching Covid each day – a 20 per cent hike in one week.
Study co-founder Professor Tim Spector said: “The major increase in new cases across the country and in the elderly is a worry, especially as we now see an uptick in hospitalizations for the first time.
“This increase was predicted when all restrictions were lifted.
“We are likely to continue to see high infection and prevalence rates of 1 in 30 people for the foreseeable future.”
There are also concerns about the spread of BA.2 coronavirus – known as stealth Covid.
Dr Jenny Harries, head of the UKHSA, said: “The increasing presence of the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron and the recent slight increase in infections in those over 55 show that the pandemic is not over and that we can expect to see Covid circulating at high levels.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.