A total of 10 cases of a new strain of Covid, dubbed “Deltacron” have been detected in France. The variant is so-named as it is considered to be a hybrid of Delta and Omicron.
The hybrid is thought to have begun circulating in January. In a document published last week (PDF download), health authority Santé publique France (SPF) said that there are around a dozen suspected cases, and 10 confirmed.
It said: “Detection during our ‘flash’ sequencing surveys and the geographical dispersion of cases may suggest that this combination has already been potentially circulating at very low levels since mid-January.”
It said that analyses were underway to confirm this.
The hybrid variant is now the “subject of extra surveillance”, SPF said, “because it amounts to a major evolutionary event.”
The impact of this is as yet unclear.
SPF said: “It is difficult to predict what the characteristics will be in relation to the variants from which it originates, and therefore its impact on public health if it spreads throughout the population.”
The variant has also been detected in Denmark, the Netherlands, and the UK.
In January this year, Professor Leondios Kostrikis, from the University of Cyprus, claimed to have identified this new mutation of the virus by analysing samples taken from both the general population and hospitalised patients.
However, the existence of the variant has been questioned by several specialists, who claim that the supposed “Deltacron hybrid” is actually a result of contamination during sequencing.
The latest SPF figures show that there were 79,794 new cases of Covid confirmed in France as of March 1, and 209 new deaths. The rate of positive tests is 20.7%.
The number of people who have received all required Covid vaccination doses is now 35,451,616.