Deltacron: Zoom in on the hybrid variant of Delta and Omicron

Several patients have contracted a certain type of Covid-19: a cross between the Delta and Omicron variants, called Deltacron. What do we know about these reported situations in France since January 17, 2022?

Since the beginning of the year, a Cypriot doctor and British health authorities have reported cases of contamination with the Omicron variant and the Delta* variant.

In France, the French Public Health Authority has taken up this issue and notes in turn the presence of contamination of this “hybrid” type. According to the authority, the first case dates back to January 17, 2022. As of February 21, the number of “possible joint infections” has been estimated at 59, details of the French Public Health, which has established “enhanced surveillance of Delta/Omicron joint infection in order to detect potential recombinants in the fastest Available time “.

This situation now applies to all regions of France. Reassuringly, Deltacron trading does not appear, so far, to be forming a block.

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Error copying genetic material

Thus, this co-infection will prove that we can all be contaminated with two variants simultaneously. But what happens in the case of viral recombination?

When the virus replicates in our cells, a transcription error occurs: the genetic material of the two variants gets mixed up. The first part of the transcript consists of the genetic code of the first strain (delta). This transcription process then stops to resume but from the copy of the genetic code of the second strain (Omicron). A hybrid was born.

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This situation has already been described: according to the French Public Health, 2.7% of Sars-CoV-2-related recombinants have been identified so far, out of 1.6 million genomes sequenced since the beginning of the epidemic.

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Covid-19: What we know about the ‘Deltacron’ hybrid variant identified in the UK

Deltacron under watch

Will Deltacron be more contagious and/or dangerous than just Delta or Omicron variants? “It is difficult to predict what the characteristics of this recombinant will be compared with the two parental variables and to predict its impact on public health,” assures the French public health.

Vigilance is still required: the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the Deltacron variant in its list of variants to be monitored.

* Leondios Kostrikis, Professor of Biology at the University of Cyprus, and Director of the Laboratory for Molecular Biotechnology and Virology, spoke in columns Bloomberg

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