Deltacron arrives in Australia

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Deltacron, the hybrid mix of the Delta and Omicron strains of Covid-19, has arrived in Australia, authorities have confirmed.

In its weekly Covid report, NSW Health reported that two ‘recombinant’ cases had emerged, including one Deltacron infection. 

One person was also infected with a combination of Omicron’s subvariants BA.1 and BA.2.

However, authorities noted the BA.2 Omicron variant remains totally dominant – making up 97 per cent of the 139,483 positive infections in the latest weekly analysis. 

Deltacron, the hybrid mix of the Delta and Omicron strains of Covid-19, has been confirmed in Australia

The BA.2 Omicron variant remains totally dominant – making up 97 per cent of the 139,483 positive infections in the latest weekly analysis

With multiple strains circulating in the community in recent months, health officials have expected the emergence of the mixed or hybrid strains. 

However, health experts say overseas experience doesn’t indicate that these should worry Australians. 

While Deltacron in theory has the potential to produce cases with the more severe illness that came with Delta and the higher transmissibility of Omicron, so far that hasn’t happened. 

The Deltacron combination variant was first detected in France in February, but case numbers have remained low worldwide. 

So far the mixed BA.1 and BA.2 ‘doublecron’ strain has not been confirmed as the XE strain. 

XE has produced hundreds of cases in Britain and is thought to be the most infectious variant seen yet. 

The XE variant, which is a combination between the BA.1 and BA.2 strains of Omicron, now makes up 1% of cases in the UK. It has not been detected in any other nation. Pictured: A woman in Jericho, New York, receives a Covid test

Hundreds of Deltacron cases were reported in the UK last month and both Covid cases and deaths are on the rise there. 

But early indications are that is attributable that to the BA.2 Omicron strain.

Deakin University’s Professor Catherine Bennett recently told Daily Mail Australia she believed the recombinant strains looked more like BA.2 than Delta – meaning they have more mild strains.

How to tell if you have Deltacron

If you get a positive Covid test result, you won’t know what strain it is – no public tests currently tell us that.

But if your symptoms are bad enough to send you to bed, you probably won’t care what strain you have.

The symptoms that tend to confirm you have Covid – and not influenza or a ‘supercold’ – are loss of taste and smell.

So-called ‘brain fog’ is also reportedly common. 

In the UK, the official list of current Covid symptoms is: 

  • high temperature or shivering (chills)
  • continuous cough
  • loss of sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • aching body
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

Professor William Rawlinson, a virologist with the University of NSW, told Nine newspapers people who have been infected with hybrid virus overseas have not shown worse outcomes.

‘We need to keep a close eye on the relationship between these cases and severity of disease,’ he said.

‘The reality is that the natural evolution of the virus means is that it will likely become transmissible over time.’

Despite widespread fears over hybrid variant ‘Deltacron’, most experiences of Covid-19 though unpleasant will confine the sufferer to home for a week or so but be no worse

Nine people in NSW were determined to have had mixed infections in recent weeks, including six with BA.1 and BA.2 at the same time and three who had both Delta and Omicron. 

The NSW Health weekly report showed the daily average for hospital admissions and intensive care cases had risen slightly.

Overall there were 139,483 people diagnosed with COVID-19 this week, a 5 per cent decrease since the previous week. 

How the new Deltacron hybrid strain is different and why it’s better to get Covid NOW – here’s everything you need to know ahead of winter 

 What is the ‘Deltacron’ strain?  

Deltacron is a hybrid ‘recombinant’ of the Delta and Omicron strains of Covid-19.

It was first detected in France in February, but case numbers have remained low worldwide.

‘If Deltacron wound up as something with the virulence of Delta and transmissibility of Omicron, then that would be something to really worry about,’ said Professor Catherine Bennett, chair in epidemiology at Deakin University.

Despite widespread fears over hybrid variant ‘Deltacron’, most experiences of Covid-19 though unpleasant will confine the sufferer to home for a week or so but be no worse

Microbiologist Professor Peter Collignon says rising Covid infections now would actually mean winter isn’t as scary as some have predicted this year

Many recognise Delta as the Covid strain potentially producing the most severe illness. On the upside, studies showed vaccination reduced the risk of infection and severe illness from Delta.

Omicron, which emerged in late 2021, is more contagious than Delta but generally produces less severe illness.

‘That could mean more severe illness, especially in people who are not fully vaccinated, but at the moment, we are not seeing that.’

The reality of Deltacron is also that it is an umbrella term for local recombinant strains – happening in different parts of the world where Delta and Omicron have been present at the same time.

That means Deltacron may not be exactly the same everywhere.

What is happening with Covid overall in Australia?   

The Deltacron hybrid strain of Covid-19 is the latest variant to worry Australians, with some predicting nightmare scenarios are possible

While there are rising Covid case numbers, Professor Bennett said there is little evidence for a resurgence in cases of the delta strain.

In fact, they look more like Omicron, especially the BA.2 strain.

‘We are seeing the high transmissibility of Omicron is still dominating, and that keeps anything not as infectious at bay.’

The way viruses work is that one strain at a time tends to dominate, by definition, that is the most infectious version.

If that strain is less virulent, the hospitals won’t see as much traffic through intensive care wards.

Australians can go about their everyday lives but should still take reasonable precautions against the spread of Covid, experts say – including getting vaccinated.

Professor Peter Collignon, professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, said recombinant variants could be more lethal, ‘but the track record shows that is not happening so far, so let’s go with the track record’.   

Do new restrictions look necessary with more people getting sick? 

Ironically, the growth of Covid infections may control the spread because many people are ‘too unwell to be out and about’, Professor Bennett said.

‘If you have more people with symptoms, even if they’re not bad enough to put you in hospital, you are less likely to be out mixing.

‘When people have symptoms they can’t ignore, they won’t be taking it to work, restaurants, or visiting friends. That slows the virus down. 

Why do people keep saying the virus will get worse in winter? 

Winter is a concern, Professor Collignon says, because viruses spread more easily when we are indoors in close proximity.

For this reason, Professor Collignon advises anyone who is unvaccinated to get vaccinated ‘especially if you are older’. 

Older or immunosuppressed people should also get a booster if they haven’t had one before Winter.

Professor Collignon advises people to entertain ‘outside on the veranda at lunchtime instead of over dinner inside at night’.

‘We’re lucky in Australia, we can do that.’ 

 People with Covid will often be too unwell to be out and about – which should help slow the spread of the virus

Australians can go about their normal lives but should still take reasonable precautions against the spread of Covid, experts say

Will Deltacron – or any other variant – create extra danger this winter?

Professor Bennett said the continued dominance of Omicron, most likely via the BA.2 strain, means the worst-case scenarios about Deltacron appear unlikely.

‘We wouldn’t expect Deltacron to be anything like the Delta outbreaks last year,’ she said.

That is partly because the high take-up of vaccines ‘tamed the virus’ in terms of transmission and the number of people in hospitals. 

Professor Collignon says the current spread of Covid-19 could actually mean winter in Australia is not as bad as initially feared.

That is because the high numbers of people getting sick and recovering raises the proportion of the population with good quality immunity.

‘I have been fairly pessimistic about winter, but the other way of looking at it is winter may not be as bad because so many people have been infected, so they’ll have immunity for the next six to 12 months.’

‘Studies from Qatar show that people who have had two doses of a vaccine and a Covid infection have greater protection than those who have had two doses and a booster.’

But isn’t it possible to get Covid twice?

Yes, but as a proportion of cases, reinfection is extremely low and appears to happen mostly in younger people.

‘A recent Danish study showed that reinfections were rare, making up only 1 in 10,000 of reported infections,’ Professor Bennett said.

‘It is possible there are more reinfections, but they might be so mild or have no symptoms that they are not reported.

‘So this suggests that the risk is low, especially in people who are vaccinated.’

How do I tell if I have Deltacron?  

If you get a positive Covid test result, you won’t know what strain it is – no public tests currently tell us that.

But if your symptoms are bad enough to send you to bed, you probably won’t care what strain you have.

The symptoms that tend to confirm you have Covid and not influenza or a ‘supercold’ are loss of taste and smell.

Other than that, Covid tends to include fever, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, brain fog, a sore throat and a runny nose. Earache is also emerging as a symptom of Omicron.

How do I recover from Covid?

That depends on how sick you get. In most cases, the infectious period is over in seven days.

The infectious, or acute period can last up to two weeks and that is likely to be when your symptoms are worst: including fever, headaches, an aching body, breathing difficulties and fatigue.

Some cases include diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting.

If breathing difficulties become severe and you experience severe confusion or chest pain, call 000.

If your symptoms can be managed from home, it is advised to rest and stay hydrated by drinking water, herbal tea or juice and to take paracetamol to reduce fever.

But in many cases, recovery – in terms of being able to resume life as normal – takes at least two weeks and up to a month.

Post-COVID-19 symptoms, such as a lingering cough, mild fever, tiredness, and a reduced sense of smell or taste, can last for weeks or months after you recover from the acute stage.

When symptoms last for months, they are commonly referred to as ‘Long Covid’, which has drawn comparisons to chronic fatigue syndrome.

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