The recombinant variant, Deltacron, composed of the two highly transmissible COVID variants, Delta and Omicron, has been confirmed by the global community of scientists, The Guardian reported.
The variant was first reported earlier this year by researchers at the University of Cyprus and was the subject was much scientific debate around that time. Many researchers had rejected the possibility that the two variants had managed to combine in a fashion that they still held signatures of their past. Instead, critics had called the finding a result of contamination in the lab.
As with all new variants found, the sequences of the Deltacron variant were also submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), a non-profit organization, founded in 2008 to share genomic information of evolving outbreaks around the world. During the course of the pandemic, the organization became the global repository of information about developing variants.
The confirmation of the Deltacron variant has come from the data that was submitted to the organization by the Pasteur Institut in France, where the variant began circulating at the beginning of the year and has also been found in countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands.
In addition to these countries, the variant has also been reported in the U.S. and the U.K. However, the recombinant variants seen in these countries are rather different from the variant that was seen in France, even though the source material for the recombination is likely to be the same, Dr. Etienne Simon-Loriere of the Pasteur Institut told The Guardian.
Is this a cause of worry?
Recombination of viruses and their variants is quite the natural thing that happens, especially, when an individual's cells are infected with more than one strain of the virus. Last year, we had reported the case of a 90-year-old woman who had contracted the Alpha and the Beta variant of COVID at once.
Given the spike in COVID infections coming into 2022, it is not a surprise that recombinants developed. Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization tweeted,
We have known that recombinant events can occur, in humans or animals, with multiple circulating variants of #SARSCoV2. need to wait for experiments to determine the properties of this virus. Importance of sequencing, analytics & rapid data sharing as we deal with this pandemic https://t.co/2qmu6WS118— Soumya Swaminathan (@doctorsoumya) March 8, 2022
For now, the number of cases of the Deltacron variant isn't high to cause concern or provide sufficient data to help identify the variant during an active infection. Specific symptoms due to a Deltacron variant infection aren't well known and it is unlikely that risks from Deltacron are higher for those who have been vaccinated.
This tells us that the coronavirus continues to find new ways to infect and the pandemic is not over yet.