What is known about the new hybrid Deltacron variant of the coronavirus?

A researcher from Cyprus first reported last January about a combination of the Delta and Omicron strains, now called “Deltacron”. However, it was later confirmed to have been contamination in the lab.

Despite this information, infections of this variant were detected in Europe and the United States two months later, which opened the debate on this new variant.

“It is now quite clear that it is actually the deltacron variant,” confirmed Luka Cicin-Sain, head of the Viral Immunology department at the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research.

What is known about the new hybrid Deltacron variant of the coronavirus?

For the World Health Organization (WHO) this fact is not a surprise: “We know this combination of delta AY.4 and omicron BA.1”, said the expert and WHO head of coronavirus, Maria van Kerkhove. For her, this was to be expected since both variants are in full circulation.

Is deltracron more dangerous?

Although delta causes more severe cases and omicron is, above all, more contagious, this does not mean that the combination of both strains is dangerous.

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An analysis of the genome sequence carried out by the French Pasteur Institute showed that Deltacron contains mutations characteristic of both strains, according to the GISAID genomic sequencing database.

This viral union could possibly allow the hybrid variant to be more infectious, which is worrying, especially since in many countries anti-coronavirus measures are being relaxed, the pandemic could be prolonged and, due to the delta variant, there could be more severe courses of covid-19.

No reason to panic

However, most experts react relatively calmly to Deltacron. So far, there have only been a few isolated cases in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Great Britain and the United States. This would indicate that the hybrid variant is not as dangerous.

Etienne Simon-Lorière of the Pasteur Institute also believes that, so far, the hybrid variant remains very rare and shows no signs of exponential growth. In other words: it does not show a worrying growth rate.

The American intensive care doctor Pierre Kory also warns on Twitter against panicking: The fact that the experts react relatively calmly to the new variant is also due to the fact that such combinations of Sars-CoV-2 variants have already occurred several times. times.

“This happens when we are in the transition phase from one dominant strain to another, in general, it is a scientific curiosity, but not much more,” explains Dr. Jeffrey Barrett, who previously led the COVID-19 genomics initiative at the British Institute Wellcome Trust Sanger.

How did deltacron originate?

According to the WHO, this was to be expected, because two variants of coronavirus, such as delta and omicron, circulate very strongly. This happens when people get infected with two strains of coronavirus at the same time. It’s very rare, but it already happened towards the end of 2021, when omicron had just replaced delta as the dominant variant.

As viruses multiply in the host cell, the genetic material may have mixed and combined into a hybrid variant.

Do vaccines protect against deltacron?

Neither vaccines nor boosters can prevent getting coronavirus. This is shown by the high numbers of contagion in recent weeks, for example, in Germany. This is mainly due to the fact that the omicron variant can partially evade the accumulated immune protection by means of an escape mutation.

Therefore, neither vaccinations nor previous infection are likely to fully protect against Deltracron. However, vaccines and boosters do at least protect against the severe course of covid-19.

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