As the world still comes to grips with coronavirus’ variant, said to be highly transmissible if not deadlier than the Delta variant, that has dimmed the chances of a pandemic-free 2022, a fresh surge in US and Europe is now being blamed on a combination of the two.
Delmicron, a combination of the virus’ Delta and Omicron variants, can transmit even faster. While Covid-19 infections only involve a single mutant strain, two can strike simultaneously in extremely rare cases.
Omicron, accounting for 73% of fresh infections last week, has become the dominant variant in the US, the Associated Press reported. According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, over 99.5% of infections in the country in November were caused by the Delta variant. Now, however, the Omicron variant has surpassed the Delta as the dominant strain.
In the UK, daily Covid-19 cases surpassed the 100,000-mark for the first time on Wednesday, attributed to Omicron, BBC reported. The symptoms, however, are milder than previous variants and are less likely to cause hospitalisations.
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Delmicron vs Omicron
Omicron is a mutated B.1.1.529 form of SARS-CoV-2, first detected last month in South Africa. This variant spreads at a rapid pace, but its symptoms, at present, are said to be milder than the Delta variant. The mortality rate is also lower. Delmicron, on the other hand, is a combination of the Delta and the Omicron — the variants’ twin spike.
Delmicron’s symptoms are the same as the Omicron and the Delta variants. These include high temperature, persistent cough, loss of taste or smell, runny nose, headache, and sore throat. While Delta causes more severe symptoms, the Omicron mutation is highly transmissible.
Moderna Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Burton said the new super-variant would be created if the Omicron and the Delta variants infect someone at the same time.
Data, papers published from South Africa earlier from the pandemic show that people, especially immunocompromised, can harbour both strains, Dr Burton told the Daily Mail earlier this month.
Dr Burton told the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee that it was possible they could swap genes and trigger a dangerous variant.
Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task force member Dr Shashank Joshi said in a tweet reply to industrialist Harsh Goenka that Omicron was still not causing serious disease in the US and Europe. The Delta strain, however, was still more sinister.
He added that Europe and North America now had the twin Delmicron variant.