United Kingdom has reported the first case of a patient suffering from a co-infection of both the Delta and Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 after this 'Deltacron' combination was considered to be a lab error by scientists across the world.
Earlier, when a case was found in Cyprus, it was passed off as a lab contamination but the existence of both the variants cohabiting in a person were found in UK. Deltacron cases were also reported in United States of America and Australia. Owing to the rise of this co-infection, the Indian consortium INSACOG which is responsible for the sequencing of the samples has asked India to be on alert regarding this infection.
Delta and Omicron are designated as variants of concern by the World Health Organisation. Delta was discovered in late 2020 and was the reason for many countries facing a devastating second COVID-19 wave. Omicron discovered in South Africa in November 2021 has now replaced Delta as the most prevalent COVID-19 variant.
When compared, Omicron has spread faster than Delta, but due to a large proportion of the population already vaccinated against the virus, Omicron is seen to be less severe than the Delta variant.
UK's patient is likely to have been exposed to both the variants and thus was co-infected with both of them. However, it is still unclear whether the virus was imported or it originated in the UK. The UK Health Security Agency is currently even unsure about the infectiousness and severity of this variant. The effect of this coinfection on vaccines is also currently unknown.
UK has classified this variant as "currently under monitoring and investigation". There is a need to collect additional epidemiological data which helps in understanding the movement, pace, spread, and severity of this co-infection.
So far, the variant has not expressed any different characteristics, the Health Agency stated. The co-infection is acting the body similar to how Omicron affects the body. Scientists have also added that there is a need for more research to reach any conclusions about this variant.
The Indian consortium has only raised an alert as both Delta and Omicron are present in India. Deltacron which is a recombinant genome, is not the only SARS-CoV-2 variant genome that is in circulation. The virus keeps mutating, giving rise to other genomes. Deltacron is of particular interest as it was earlier considered to be a contamination of samples. Clusters in the three countries now prove otherwise.
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