In many countries, as restrictions are lifted and freedom is restored, there’s a feeling that the pandemic is over. However, there is, still a significant concern that a dangerous new variant could emerge.
This happened when omicron came, but we got lucky with that one. Omicron turned out to be more transmissible, but thankfully it hasn’t caused an increase in severe disease in most countries where it is dominant.
But this wasn’t guaranteed. Variants crop up randomly, and the new ones have the ability to be more dangerous than previous ones. Another one has just arrived, and is currently going by the name deltacron. It is a hybrid of delta and omicron, the two variants dominant most recently
Deltacron’s story begins in mid-February, when scientists at the Institut Pasteur in Paris uploaded a genetic sequence of the coronavirus that looked a lot different from previous sequences. The virus sample had come from an elderly man in northern France and looked odd. Most of its genetic sequence was the same as delta’s, which was dominant worldwide up until late last year, but the part of the sequence that encodes the virus’s spike protein which is a key part of its external structure, which it uses to get inside cells in the body, came from omicron.
By March, three more hybrid genetic sequences had been reported, this time in the US. There are now more than 60 logged, across France, the Netherlands, Denmark, the US and the UK.