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While it has not yet been detected in Australia, the Deltacron variant has been found in countries including France, the US, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands.
The new variant combines aspects of both its Delta and Omicron predecessors.
But is there much reason to worry?
What is Deltacron?
Deltacron is a “recombinant” virus, mixing aspects of two separate variants.
Omicron is currently the globally dominant COVID-19 variant, while Delta, which swept the world last year, was renowned as the most severe variant to date.
It has been speculated that Deltacron may be the result of the out-of-vogue Delta virus trying to mimic Omicron’s success in transmission.
The recombinant was first detected by the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France, according to international science not-for-profit GISAID.
It has been speculated that there could be further Deltacron sub-variants, with the Institut Pasteur finding differences in cases in the UK and US compared to mainland Europe.
How dangerous is it?
A combination of Delta’s severity and Omicron’s transmissibility might sound like a nightmare scenario.
But scientists are playing down concerns.
It is this “spike” which is targeted by vaccines and antibodies, meaning that defences people have already acquired against Omicron should be effective at fending off Deltacron.
The virus so far appears to be very rare, and unable to replicate itself successfully.
“As the coronavirus is continuing to spread widely and infect large numbers of people, it’s likely that more variants will emerge – including through recombination,” he said.