What we know about how signs of new Covid hybrid variant compare to Delta and Omicron

Scientists have found a Covid strain that combines Delta and Omicron variants.

Rates of Covid are increasing across the UK, and it is thought the Deltacron variant may be behind this.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Deltacron?

While the so-called “Deltacron” variant had been suspected in a number of countries, virologists at L’Institut Pasteur in Paris submitted its full genomic sequence on Tuesday to the international Covid database, GISAID, meaning it has been officially confirmed as a variant.

A case of Deltacron has been found in Soissons, northern France, and more are suspected in Denmark and the Netherlands.

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According to analysis of Deltacron’s genetic code, its “backbone” is derived from the Delta variant while its spike – the part of the virus that attaches itself to human cells – is from Omicron.

Recombinant viruses emerge when a patient is infected with two variants at the same time, and the combination occurs when its cells replicate together.

Maria van Kerkhove, the Covid technical lead for the World Health Organization (WHO), tweeted that recombinants were “to be expected, especially with intense circulation of Omicron & Delta” and that her team were “tracking and discussing” the variant.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the WHO, tweeted: “We have known that recombinant events can occur, in humans or animals, with multiple circulating variants of #SARS-CoV-2 need to wait for experiments to determine the properties of this virus. Importance of sequencing, analytics and rapid data sharing as we deal with this pandemic. “

What are the symptoms of Deltacron?

Covid is spreading in the UK (Photo: Andrew Milligan / PA Wire)

According to the NHS the symptoms of Deltacron remain as they have been for most of the pandemic, but scientists are still monitoring it. The NHS says the common Covid symptoms are:

  • High temperatures: This means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
  • New, continuous cough: This is defined as coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste (anosmia): This means you have noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

According to Yella Hewings-Martin, PhD of the ZOE Covid Study which is tracking symptoms across the country, the most common symptoms recently have been headaches, runny noses, fatigue, sore throat and sneezing.

Is Deltacron bad?

The prospect of a variant combining two of the most potent versions of coronavirus of the pandemic so far may sound scary, particularly because Delta was more severe than other variants and Omicron was highly infectious.

But scientists stress that there is now substantial immunity in the human population against both variants, so there is no reason to think this will pose a danger to vaccines.

What’s more, the case in Soissons has been traced back to January, meaning it would have taken off by now if it had any real advantage in a population – in the way Omicron did in November and December.

What are the Covid rates?

As of 16 March, hospital admissions across the UK are up 18.4 per cent week-on-week, although the number of patients in intensive care remains low.

The number of people testing positive has gone up by 52.4 per cent in seven days.

In total, 163,095 have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.

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