What is Deltacron?
As the portmanteau suggests, Deltacron is a Covid variant that contains elements of Delta and Omicron – in other words, it contains genes from both variants, making it what is known as a recombinant virus.
“These recombinants arise when more than one variant infects and replicates in the same person, in the same cells,” says Prof Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick. “Deltacron is a product of both the Delta and Omicron variants circulating in the same population.”
This week, Gisaid, a global community of scientists that shares virus information, posted that the first solid evidence for this variant had been shared by the Pasteur Institute in France.
“We need to keep an eye on the behaviour of this recombinant in terms of its transmissibility and its ability to escape vaccine-induced immune protection,” he says. “This also serves to reinforce the need to maintain genetic surveillance. As the virus continues to circulate, particularly in under-vaccinated populations and in people whose vaccine-induced immunity is decaying, we are very likely to see more variants including those generated through recombination.”