According to the latest reports, cases of a new COVID variant that has been dubbed as Deltacron have been detected in the State of Israel. This variant is essentially a hybrid of the Omicron and Delta variants, hence the name Deltacron. On Monday night, reports stated that the new variant had been detected in swab samples that had been sent to the labs for sequencing. However, the Health Ministry is yet to give any confirmation about the said report. The report went on to disclose that there were only a limited number of cases found and there was no need to worry about a community spread.
These cases had been identified in people who had returned from Europe recently. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the COVID-19 technical lead for the World Health Organization (WHO) and epidemiologist for infectious diseases, had discussed the new variant in the previous week. She acknowledged that the strain was a combination of the Delta and Omicron variant of the coronavirus. She had also revealed that the strain had been identified in a number of countries, including the Netherlands and France, but had added that it was found on a low level. According to Israeli experts, this variant is in accordance with expectations.
They stated that the emergence of the new variant had not come as a surprise. Prof. Cyrille Cohen, the immunologist working at the Bar Ilan University, stated that it had also been expected that the new variant would come to Israel from Europe because a lot of people were traveling from Tel Aviv. He added that the variants that had come before had turned out to be altered strains of a previous strain of COVID-19, but the new one was a result of combination of two strains. He said that the ‘recombination’ concept’s feasibility could be seen this way, which means two different COVID-19 strains can combine to form one.
He went on to say that it had been considered theoretical up till now, but the development did not have to be a big concern as there were no indications that it could lead to a lot of illness. This can be concluded from the fact that the spread has been very slow so far and expectations of the strain becoming dominant are quite low. He said that since the new strain has existed, it has not managed to overcome the Omicron variant, which shows that it cannot spread as quickly.
Cohen also talked about the recombination concept. He said that the variants that had been discovered so far had been gradual mutations in the viral genome. There were 30,000 letters in the genetic code and the mutations had occurred in individual spots, like one letter here and one there. But, recombination means that entire chunks of genomes have combined. Van Kerkhove had said in the briefing last week that the large number of cases meant that recombination was expected, but it did not show a change in epidemiology and there was no change in severity either.