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New COVID-19 'deltacron' variant confirmed in Brazil

Mixed variant has traits of delta and omicron, but details still scarce

A woman in Sao Paulo receives a COVID-19 vaccine: Brazil's health minister has said measures used to fight earlier versions of the virus, such as booster vaccinations, are effective against the new variant.   © Reuters

MEXICO CITY -- The Brazilian Health Ministry announced on Tuesday that it had confirmed the first case of the "deltacron" variant of COVID-19, a new variant that has characteristics of both the delta and omicron variants. Deltacron cases have already been confirmed in the U.S. and Europe. The number of infections remains low.

Two cases have been confirmed in Brazil. A 34-year-old man in the northern state of Amapa, and a 26-year-old woman in the northern state of Para were infected, according to local media. "The deltacron variant needs to be monitored," said Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga at a March 15 news conference. He noted that the same measures used to fight earlier strains of the coronavirus, such as booster vaccinations, are also effective against the new variant.

Deltacron has already infected people in other parts of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) said at a March 9 news conference that cases had been confirmed in France, the Netherlands and Denmark. A paper reporting the presence of cases in the U.S. was also published in medRxiv, which publishes pre-peer-reviewed medical papers. The number of cases has remained small in all those regions.

Reports indicate the deltacron variant was discovered in January by Cypriot researchers. Initially, some said that it might have been a false positive caused by a technical error, but the WHO and other organizations later recognized the existence of the mixed variant. Details about the new strain, such as the severity of the infection, are not yet available.

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