Cape Town - What is unofficially being referred to as the Covid-19 ‘Deltacron’ variant, is not, in fact, a variant but rather a recombinant of viruses where the genetic sequence is partly from the Delta and Omicron variant.
Department of Health spokesperson Foster Mohale, says the recombinant virus, BA.1 x AY.4, that was first detected earlier this year in some European countries, has not been officially named and has not been declared a variant of concern.
“There is no such thing as DeltaCron. It is a 'pet' name that media are using for variants that exhibit mutations of both. We don't see it causing a wave. Yes, BA.2 is presently dominant but is still Omicron and is behaving the same as its parent,” he said.
Recombinants can occur when multiple variants infect the same person at the same time. This allows the variants to interact and mix up their genetic material, forming new combinations.
The World Health Organization said last month that it is monitoring the recombinant BA.1 x AY.4, which contains elements of Delta (AY.4) and BA.1 Omicron variants.
Infectious diseases expert at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), Dr Richard Lessells, said ‘Deltacron’ is not a proper scientific term and is deliberately scary.
“We have not detected any Delta/Omicron recombinant viruses. They have been detected in other parts of the world, but in small numbers, and there is no evidence at the moment that they are spreading widely in any location,” he said.
At present, there are no immediate concerns about the recombinant viruses that have been identified, said Lessells, and such viruses can be expected when there are different variants circulating at high levels in some parts of the world.
“The genomic surveillance system we have here in SA and across the world is well equipped to detect and monitor these. There is no evidence at the moment that any of these recombinant lineages is likely to have sufficiently different properties that it would lead to a major resurgence,” he said.