(Reuters) - Hybrid versions of the coronavirus that combine genes from the Delta and Omicron variants have been identified in at least 17 patients in the United States and Europe, researchers said.
Because there have been so few confirmed cases, it is too soon to know whether such infections will be very transmissible or cause severe disease, said Philippe Colson of IHU Mediterranee Infection in Marseille, France, lead author of a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review. His team described three patient samples collected in southern France containing a version of SARS-CoV-2 that combines the spike protein from the Omicron variant with the "backbone" of Delta.
Another two unrelated chimeric samples have been identified in the United States, according to an unpublished report by genetics research company Helix that has been submitted to medRxiv and seen by Reuters. On genomic surveillance bulletin boards, other teams have reported more than a dozen additional Delta-Omicron hybrids identified in Europe since January - all similar to the three samples collected by Colson's group.
Genetic recombinations of human coronaviruses have been known to happen when two variants infect the same host cell. "During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, two or more variants have co-circulated during same periods of time and in same geographical areas...This created opportunities for recombination between these two variants," said Colson, adding that his team has designed a PCR test that "can quickly test positive samples for the presence of this...virus."
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3sWBlku medRxiv, online March 8, 2022.
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