You may have heard rumblings about a new(ish) COVID strain called ‘Deltacron’. It’s a combination of the Delta and Omicron variants, my two least favourite dinner party guests.

But do not fret dear reader: we’ve broken down everything you need to know about Deltacron so far.

What is ‘Deltacron’?

Deltacron was reported at a lab in Cyprus back in January 2022. But other scientists ultimately put those findings down to a lab contamination.

Deltacron infections have now been found in some COVID positive people across the world. In essence, it’s when someone is infected with a mix of the Delta and Omicron strains of COVID.

Deltacron is what we (and by “we” I mean actual scientists) like to call a recombinant strain. That’s when two individual virus strains merge into their own new strain. I’m imagining it like mixing two different flavours of frozen yoghurt in one cup to make a new hybrid flavour.

There are also other recombinant strains including the XE strain. No, that’s not a new Grimes and Elon Musk baby. It’s when someone is infected with two Omicron strains, BA.1 and BA.2.

New South Wales has now reported one case of an infected person with two Omicron sub-variants.

“So far, the combined version of Omicron’s BA.1 and BA.2 detected in NSW has not been identified as XE but further testing is underway,” NSW Health Pathology Professor Dominic Dwyer told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Dwyer wasn’t surprised that this combo strain had appeared in NSW.

“There have been other types of recombinants found around the world. At the moment we are in a watching and waiting to see if they spread of if they are just one-off events.”

Are there any Deltacron cases in Australia?

We’ve had our little science lesson now. Congratulations, you all got A+s.

In NSW Health’s weekly report it said one case of Deltacron had been found. Queensland Health reported up to 12 cases of the Deltacron strain in their weekly report as per The Courier Mail.

How is it different to COVID strains?

Scientists reckon that Deltacron will probably operate in a similar way to Omicron. That’s because the virus’s spike protein mostly comes from the Omicron strain.

The spike protein is essentially the bit of the virus which allows it to invade cells. Very rude of it if you ask me.

“The surface of the viruses is super-similar to Omicron, so the body will recognise it as well as it recognises Omicron,” Dr Etienne Simon-Loriere told The New York Times in March.

This is where vaccines come in really handy. I shall hand over to the Australian Government’s Department of Health to explain.

“The virus that causes COVID-19  has spikes of protein on each viral particle. These spike proteins allow the virus to attach to cells and cause disease,” it says on its vaccine site.

“The vaccines help the body to recognise these spike proteins as a threat [and] fight the coronavirus that has these proteins.”

Is it more transmissible?

At the moment we just don’t know if the Deltacron variant will ultimately become more transmissible than other variants.

University of NSW virologist Professor William Rolwinson told the SMH there is a chance Deltacron could become more transmissible.

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

But in short, the scientists are keeping their well trained eyes on Deltacron. Always good news.

As always with COVID the best advice is to make sure you’re vaccinated. If you’re still dilly-dallying around about getting your booster shot, book that bad boy in!

Image: Getty Images / Darrian Traynor