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Is "Deltacron" the name of the latest variant of the coronavirus?
The end of last year and the beginning of 2022 were key moments for the pandemic. The spread of delta and omicron reached record figures, now speculating with a supposed variant that combines them both.
Indeed, "deltacron" is the neologism designated to refer to a new strain of the coronavirus. The term is coined from the union of the words "delta" and "omicron", being on the lips of many lately.
First cases detected in Cyprus started everything
The University of Cyprus has always been a pioneer in the identification of coronavirus strains. In fact, of the 30 variants that were previously confirmed, 10 of them were isolated in the prestigious house of studies of the nation.
On this occasion, the alarms were raised not only due to the rebound in cases, but also due to a particular outbreak.
About 25 patients were positive for coronavirus disease, but with unique characteristics. Apparently, the virus shared characteristics of delta and omicron.
However, co-infections are more common than you might think. At the beginning of the pandemic, some had already been documented where the main pathogens were influenza and COVID-19. In essence, the same scenario has occurred with the aforementioned variants.
But, the reality is that it is not a co-infection according to the criteria of the University of Chile. Leondios Kostrikis, is the Director of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology of the main student entity that disseminates the information.
"It is known that there are co-infections between delta and omicron, but this time it is different. We have found a variant that combines them both, still under study". — Kostrikis clarified.
Actions taken following discovery
The findings in 25 different people determined part of the veracity of the information.
Given this perspective, immediately the adopted protocol was immediate hospitalization. Although not all had complicated symptoms, they would be studied according to their evolution.
"New tests are being done and in the near future we will see if it is more pathological or contagious. For the moment, it is a wake-up call to continue taking care of yourself". — Kostrikis said.
He also mentioned that the infection by the new variant symbolizes a high risk for those infected. He endangers their lives exponentially if they are not treated in time, but he called for calm.
For the time being, the National Government is expected to dictate rigorous conduct in biosafety measures. Cyprus has maintained a low range of infections in its registry, being one of the countries with the lowest number of deaths.
In another vein, the Ministry of National Health clarified that the vaccines continue to be effective regardless of the variant. Fortunately, almost the entire population has been vaccinated, oscillating the figure of 1,200,000 doses applied for the first time.
The next step
There is no doubt that the finding of this premise may represent a new chapter of uncertainty. However, suspicions of a possible laboratory error are beginning to be a trend.
For its part, the University of Chile specified that the next step was to sequence the genome of the strain found. The study yielded a genetic signature that shared the properties and qualities of delta and omicron in a single pathogen.
The information submitted to the GISAID database, a body attached to the Pasteur Institute. She is in charge of verifying what concerns new variants of influenza or COVID-19. Therefore, he will be the one who will officially pronounce on the isolated sequence.
Meanwhile, the next few days will be key to ratify or refute all the known data. For now, the world will remain vigilant until further notice.
The official position of the World Health Organization
The World Health Organization has been at the forefront of coordinating the pandemic. Throughout it, he has informed and guided the world population regarding the coronavirus plus the appearance of its new strains.
Based on this, it did not take long to pronounce and adopt an official position on "Deltacron". Maria Van Kherkove, lead epidemiologist for the WHO coronavirus response, confirmed that:
"The use of terms such as Deltacron obviously implies the combination of viruses or variants. Which, so far, is not truly happening."
In the same vein, he urged the population to draw on information provided by official international entities. He also noted that another problem is that, erroneously, the word "Flurona" is being associated with virus variables, when it is not.
"Words like Deltacron or Flurona are causing a new disinformation pandemic. It is better to inform yourself before the use of these terms that are inaccurate". — Commented the prominent epidemiologist.
Other high-caliber institutions such as Imperial College London joined the statement by the WHO. Experts on the subject speak of a "high probability of laboratory error" right at the moment the sampling was carried out.
Finally, he also endorsed the simple fact that vaccination and biosecurity measures such as social distancing remain key. As this trend is followed, the decrease in virus variants will be a fact.
The WHO suggests that it is possibly a co-infection
In the absence of greater depth in the analysis of the cases in Cyprus, a possible co-infection with both strains is handled. For Van Kherkove, it is the most likely scenario to date.
"Social interactions have increased around the end of the year holidays. Various biosafety and public health measures have been relaxed, allowing the emergence of flu and COVID-19 co-infections. Co-infections do exist and occur more than usual you think". — He exclaimed.
He stressed that with omicron, a new behavior of the coronavirus has been verified, implying that it continues to evolve. It adheres to and learns better from the immune system, allowing its rapid mutation. Based on this argument, it is that so much has been said about new strains.
The World Health Organization's plan is to prioritize herd immunity for July. At that point, it is visualized that 70% of the world population is vaccinated with a complete immunization schedule.
In this way, not only will the pandemic cycle end, but the commotion over the origin of novel variants of the virus. If such an objective is finalized in collaboration with the main governments of the world, the light will be reached at the end of the tunnel.