What We Know So Far About the “Deltacron” Variant
On March 9, the World Health Organisation (WHO) addressed a new variant of COVID-19, dubbed “deltacron,” made from a combination of genes found in the highly transmissible delta and omicron COVID variants. In a media briefing, infectious-disease epidemiologist and WHO’s COVID technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, referred to the combination as a “recombinant.” It’s to be expected, she said, because of the “intense amount of circulation that we saw with both omicron and delta,” and in some countries, at the same time. She did not outright call it “deltacron” by name.
Dr. Van Kerkhove continued on to say there is “very good surveillance in many countries right now, and given the sheer number of changes and mutations within omicron, it was much easier for researchers, scientists, public health professionals, people who are studying the genome, to be able to detect these recombinants.” However, she stressed, WHO has not seen any change in case severity due to deltacron, and there are many ongoing studies. WHO will continue to give updates when the organisation learns more.
According to Reuters, deltacron has been detected in at least 17 patients in the US and Europe. Per The Guardian, though, the UK Health Security Agency detected about 30 cases in the UK alone. In the WHO briefing, Dr. Van Kerkhove said deltacron has specifically been detected in France, the Netherlands, and Denmark but that there are “very low levels of this detection.”
Bloomberg reported that Leondios Kostrikis, PhD, and his team at the University of Cyprus detected this variant back in January, but experts initially cast doubt, saying it was probably the result of lab contamination. This week, the scientist data-sharing community GISAID said the first “solid evidence” of deltacron came from France’s Institut Pasteur.
It’s important to note that deltacron is not under the CDC’s list of variants of concern, nor is it under WHO’s. As of now, omicron is still the most dominant strain of COVID in the US, according to data reported to the CDC. POPSUGAR has reached out to the CDC for comment and has yet to hear back.
William Hanage, PhD, epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told USA Today that “if it’s not causing lots of cases, people don’t need to be concerned.” William Lee, PhD, chief science officer at Helix, the lab that identified two separate deltacron infections in the US, similarly told the outlet that deltacron will most likely not become a variant of concern.