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Be careful not to panic because of supposed new variants | Coronavirus


There are currently people infected with both Omicron and Delta, and we have discovered a strain that combines the twoCypriot virologist Leondios Kostrikis told a local television station on Friday.

During the weekend, many international media picked up on this announcement and the name given by researchers to this new incarnation is Deltacron.

The name and the idea are likely to cause concern: a mixture between Delta, which dominated the pandemic for a good part of 2021, and Omicron, appeared at the end of the year and carried by a meteoric boom because of a very strong contagiousness.

But the scientific community quickly became skeptical. Several researchers have pointed out that it was impossible to find a single line in the twenty samples supposed from Deltacron.

We can indeed reconstruct from databases fed by researchers the family tree, says phylogenetic, a version of the virus. However, if Deltacron existed and marked the arrival of a new variant, the cases identified would come from a common core of successive mutations.

This is clearly not the case and skeptical researchers are making a more prosaic hypothesis: samples would have become contaminated during their examination in the laboratory.

Deltacron surely comes from contamination during sequencingResearcher Maria Van Kerkhove, who leads the fight against COVID-19 at the World Health Organization (WHO), said on Twitter on Monday.

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The media wave around Deltacron is only the latest after a series of excesses since the entry into the scene of Omicron.

Social networks and some press titles have ignited at the turn of the new year around a supposed new virus, the flurona, nickname given to the simultaneous co-infection with influenza (flu in English) and coronavirus.

This runaway, resulting from a case in an Israeli woman, did not take into account the fact that cases of double infections have been known since the start of the pandemic.

You shouldn’t use words like Deltacron or flurona, warned Ms. Kerkhove. They suggest a combination of variants or viruses, which is simply not the case.

The new French variant

Finally, a number of Anglo-Saxon and, to a lesser extent, French media were concerned at the start of 2022 about the emergence of a French variant, which would present many mutations and would be linked to a large number of hospitalizations in the south of the country.

This variant, identified as B.1.640.2, is very real and was spotted by British researchers in early December. But it has actually only been isolated in a very limited number of samples and there is no reason to relate it to the predicament in hospitals in part of southern China. France.

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There have only been about twenty B.1640.2 samples so far [et] we isolated the latest on December 6, noticed on Twitter the geneticist François Balloux.

He regretted a runaway absurd about this variant, whose media exposure was revived by a study published in December by researchers from the University Hospital Institute for Infectious Diseases (IHU) in Marseille, notably signed by the controversial professor Didier Raoult.

No new variant of concern

These three cases of runaway may correspond to certain realities. For Deltacron, it is quite possible that existing variants will eventually fuse in people infected with Delta and Omicron.

Flurona, the double infection of influenza and COVID-19 is a real concern, which for example pushes the French authorities to strongly encourage the elderly to be vaccinated against both.

Finally, the new variants remain closely watched. Epidemiologists regularly warn that a more contagious or more severe incarnation of the coronavirus could change the face of the epidemic.

There are variants that emerge all the time, recalled Monday the French epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet on the channel BFMTV / RMC. But, in recent days, no variant that is said to be worrying.

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