‘Delmicron’ could be driving Covid surge in US, Europe. Know more about it
As cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus are being reported in the US and Europe and rising in India, reports about “Delmicron” have emerged over the last few days.
A member of the Covid-19 task force in Maharashtra has said there is a possibility that the West is caught between twin spikes of the Delta and the Omicron variants of the coronavirus.
"Delmicron, the twin spikes of Delta and Omicron, in Europe and US has led to a mini tsunami of cases," Dr Shashank Joshi was quoted as saying by a leading newspaper.
The highly contagious Omicron variant was first detected last month in southern Africa and has now been reported in 89 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
What is Delmicron?
Delmicron is not a new variant of the coronavirus but the Delta and the Omicron strains together fuelling Covid-19 cases.
Data shows Omicron is the more dominant variant in the US and accounts for 73 per cent of all new cases, up from less than 1 per cent at the beginning of the month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the Delta variant was responsible for more than 99.5 per cent of the Covid-19 infections in the US last month.
Meanwhile, health officials in Texas said on Monday the state recorded what ABC News reported is believed to be the first known US death related to Omicron.
In the United Kingdom, daily cases of Covid-19 surpassed the 100,000-mark for the first time on Wednesday, even as preliminary studies published in the country and South Africa show Omicron is not severe as other variants of the coronavirus.
Experts on Delmicron
Doctors say people with a weak immune system, the elderly and ones with comorbidities are at higher risk of getting infected with the Delta and Omicron variants, simultaneously, according to a report. It added that areas with low vaccinations rates are also at risk.
However, health experts are divided on whether the combination of the two variants can lead to a super strain.
Moderna's chief medical officer Dr Paul Burton said it was possible that both the strains can swap genes and trigger a more dangerous variant.
"There's certainly data, there have been some papers published again from South Africa earlier from the pandemic when people - and certainly immunocompromised people - can harbour both viruses," Burton was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
Other researchers have also warned that such “recombination events” are extremely rare but possible if conditions are right and there is a coincidence of mostly uncontrollable events.
In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month, Peter White, a virologist at the University of New South Wales, also warned about the possibility of a super strain.
Will Delmicron impact India?
India has reported 354 cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant as of Thursday, according to data collated from across the states by HT. So far, experts have said Delta is the variant that has been fuelling Covid-19 cases in India.
“At present, Delta derivatives, descendants of Delta, are the main variants in circulation in India. Omicron is fast replacing Delta in other parts of the world, but there is no way to predict how the Delta derivatives and Omicron would behave," Joshi, Maharashtra Covid task force member, said according to The Times of India.
"Sero surveys in Mumbai, Delhi showed that over 90 per cent of the surveyed population had been exposed to Covid. Also, 88 per cent of Indians have taken the first vaccine shot at least," he said.