Why we shouldn’t panic about the Covid Deltacron alert – RT Op-ed

An alleged hybrid mutation of the Delta and Omicron strains of the virus has raised many questions about the future of the epidemic. But a growing number of experts insist it’s probably a false alarm.

By Anastasia Safronova, RT . Editor

Last week, a group of scientists from Cyprus claimed to have discovered a new type of Covid – a mixture of the already recognized Delta and Omicron strains. They also gave it an ominous new name, “Deltacron.”

But the scientific community took the story with a pinch of salt. Despite the fact that the research team claimed to have identified 25 cases of the new “substitute”, a group of experts from around the world insisted that laboratory contamination was to blame for the discovery. Professor Leondios Kostrikis, who leads the team of researchers from Cyprus, defended Deltacron in an email sent to Bloomberg. Cases identified “They indicate an evolutionary pressure of an ancestral lineage to acquire these mutations rather than the result of a single recombination event,” He told the outlet.

Read more:
Omicron Delta ‘Hybrid’ gets a sinister name

However, doubts remain high. Professor Jose Antonio Lopez Guerrero, from the Department of Molecular Biology at the Autonomous University of Madrid, told RT that pollution during the research was the most likely cause. He said a range of variables can occur, but the chances of that happening are very low.

“While Omicron is so widespread right now, it can have some kind of mixed infection, like a combination with Delta,” He said. “But it would be an extremely rare case; the probability is slim.”

Vincent Marechal, a professor of virology at France’s Sorbonne University in Paris, is also unwilling to confirm whether the Deltacron is real. “It is difficult for me, while the data is not submitted for publication, to give a scientific answer [as to] Whether Deltacron exists or not,” Professor said.

The verdict seems to be that it is possible – but not likely.

The World Health Organization has not officially commented on the matter yet, but in an effort to allay widespread concerns, Maria Van Kerkhove, its technical lead on Covid-19, has urged people not to use the term ‘Deltacron’ as it was. “Potential contamination during sequencing.”

This desire for the audience to remain objective was also reflected in her request that people refrain from using terms such as “Florona or Fluron,” In reference to another disturbing episode that appeared in the media headlines earlier this year. A young woman in Israel was hospitalized with Covid and influenza at the same time. Fortunately, her symptoms were mild, so she was quickly discharged from the hospital.

It wasn’t her first case. In 2020, there were several reports that both infections could occur at the same time. And with headlines filled with alarming new strains of Covid named after the letters of the Greek alphabet, the mere mention of a word like ‘flurona’ was apparently enough to frighten many.

However, Professor Lopez clarified the situation to RT. “Florona’s case is not a single disease. It is a co-infection with two different viruses. The combination of Covid and influenza cannot happen,” He said.

Professor Marechal explained the mechanism: “Recombination is a genetic process that can happen when two species are very close to each other. It is very similar to sexual reproduction – you can have children with another human being, but not with an animal. Influenza and coronavirus are from two different families. They cannot cross with each other. some”.

Even if the Deltacron turns out to be indeed a false alarm, the world still has enough problems dealing with the Omicron, which is the currently dominant strain. Due to its high transmissibility, it is spreading so quickly that some countries are tightening anti-Covid measures and encouraging mandatory vaccination – further angering citizens opposed to such a policy. According to WHO estimates, within six to eight weeks, more than half of Europe could be infected.

“Personally, I thought the epidemic would end with Delta,” Follow Professor Lopez. “But then Omicron came along and changed the rules of the game.”

But there is a glimmer of hope. Many experts around the world note that the symptoms caused by the latter strain are milder than the previous ones.

Professor Marshall said, “Omicron is less virulent – or at least we hope it is – than Delta, for example. But it is highly transmissible, mostly because the incubation period is shorter. It is very well designed to be transmitted in immune populations. The vaccine barrier is not as effective as we expected – but Vaccination provides protection against hospitalization.”

Professor Lopez also noted that a higher transmission factor should be taken into account. “Omicron infects a lot of people globally, so there will be a large number of people who have natural immunity after illness, in addition to those who have immunity given by vaccines. So, this higher level of immune protection will work against the other variants, “ Professor said. But this result is still theoretical. Practically speaking, there might be another variant, worse than Omicron, and we’ll all be back to square one.”

While this is an undoubtedly troubling prospect, the clear confirmation that a hybrid boom like the Deltacron is unlikely to be a relief to millions. But experts don’t take anything for granted.

Professor Marshall concluded, “We cannot predict anything: we have to learn not to predict, because most of the predictions that have been made regarding the Covid virus have been proven wrong.

“But, as a virologist, I think a lot of people will get infected, and that immunity will probably reduce the risk of severe cases. It’s not a fact that we won’t have a new wave – it’s a fact that it won’t be very important to the health system.”

The statements, views, and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author only and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of RT.

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