There May Be A New COVID Variant - Here's What We Know

By Jason Hall

March 10, 2022

Covid-19 Omicron sign
Photo: Moment RF

A potential new COVID-19 variant combining the previous Delta and Omicron variants has reportedly been identified and detected in the U.S. and several European countries.

The World Health Organization said "Deltacron" cases were reported in France, the Netherlands and Denmark, while a new report soon to be published on the research site MedRxiv and viewed by USA TODAY claims its also been present in the U.S.

Helix, a lab based in San Mateo, California, sequenced 29,719 positive COVID samples collected nationwide between November 22, 2021 and February 13, 2022, its research team, which included specialists from the University of Washington Medical Center and testing company Thermo Fisher Scientific, confirmed in the soon to be published report via USA TODAY.

Researchers said they discovered two infections that involved different versions of "Deltacron," which stemmed from Delta and Omicron genetic material combining, while 20 other infections had both variants, including one case that included "Deltacron," as well as its predecessors.

Though it may seem like cause for caution, experts don't believe the unofficially named "Deltacron" is as severe as the Delta or Omicron variants.

William Lee, the chief science officer at Helix, said researchers believe "Deltacron" is unlikely to spread.

"The fact that there is not that much of it, that even the two cases we saw were different, suggests that it's probably not going to elevate to a variant of concern level" or officially be given a Greek letter name, Lee told USA TODAY

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an American infectious disease epidemiologist and the WHO's COVID-19 technical lead, confirmed that "there are very low levels of this detection" in relation to "Deltacron" during a press conference held on Wednesday (March 9).

In January, Bloomberg.com initially reported Leondios Kostrikis, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, identified the new "deltacron," which gets its name from a combination of the two coronavirus strains.

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