HEALTH

New coronavirus variant discovered amidst a surge of European COVID-19 cases

Mar 16, 2022, 8:30 AM | Updated: 10:45 am
Delta variant Coronavirus COVID-19 deaths in Utah...
The CDC's model of the coronavirus is show. Credit: CDC via CNN

SALT LAKE CITY — Researchers discovered another new coronavirus variant in a study published last Wednesday. It’s called “Deltacron” because they say the virus has elements of both the Delta and Omicron variants.

Dr. Sankar Swaminathan, chief of infectious diseases at University of Utah Health, said any information as to how severe the new variant is remains unknown at this time.

“The amount of information about a new recombinant strain with components of both Delta and Omicron is really, there’s very little information about this,” he said.

New coronavirus variant

According to the study conducted by Yale University, the variant was discovered in January in southern France. During a press conference last week, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove with the World Health Organization said they were aware of the new variant, but they did not detect it in many parts. But despite the lack of widespread detection, Van Kerkhove said testing was integral to keep from getting infected.

“Testing remains absolutely critical as part of the COVID-19 response,” she said. “It’s about making sure that we have good testing, intelligent testing, strategic testing not only to monitor the variants and virus evolution but to ensure that people know where the virus is and to get the appropriate care that they need.”

COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic in 2020. Since then, vaccines and other measures to prevent the spread have been implemented. However, infections have increased in Europe as of late. Germany is one of the nations with the highest number of infections and they continue to rise. The United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands also have high infection counts. Swaminathan said European nations may have let their guard down too soon.

“Both the UK and Denmark basically threw open their doors and relaxed all restrictions,” he said.

Even if it’s temporary, easing restrictions will lead to more COVID-19 infections, Swaminathan said. 

People not getting boosted was also another reason Europe was seeing a rise in cases, according to Swaminathan. 

“Immunity to Omicron itself and to the sub-variant are quite poor with only two shots,” he said. “If you haven’t been boosted, even though the efficacy against hospitalization remains high, the efficacy against infection is not as good as it was before.”

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