Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the existence of a new variant of the coronavirus. The new strain was called deltacron, as it mixes genes from the delta and omicron variants.
The emergence of recombinant viruses occurs when two distinct variants infect the same cell. Thus, during the replication of the virus, they end up merging their genetic characteristics and creating this hybrid.
The variant was sequenced by the Institut Pasteur, in France, which placed the information in the international database. Gisaid. Deltacron is circulating in various regions of France and has also been identified in Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA.
For now, the WHO has not yet classified deltacron as a Variant of Concern (VOC) or a Variant of Interest (VOI). More data is needed to understand its behavior and risks.
Anyway, it’s still too early to be concerned. Etienne Simon-Loriere, a virologist at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, told The New York Times that the gene that encodes the surface protein of the virus – the famous spike – comes almost entirely from the omicron, while the rest of the genome is Delta.
Thus, the defenses acquired by people for the omicron variant, whether through infection, vaccines or both, seem to be enough to stop the new variant.
Jeffrey Barrett, former director of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institutsaid to The Guardian that this is not the first recombinant virus to emerge during the Covid-19 pandemic — and it probably won’t be the last.
“This happens whenever we are in the transition period from one dominant variant to another and is usually a scientific curiosity, but not much more than that,” the scientist explained.