Omicron, Delta and now “Deltacron” check. But in Italy, the search for variants is at a minimum: only 0.25% of tests have been sequenced in the last month

Omicron that advances, Delta that still resists. And now a new Cypriot strain – called “Deltacron”- which seems to combine both, while in the background (not enough) one stands out mutationsister”Of the South African variant, with still unknown characteristics. The virus that causes the Covid-19 it now resembles a Hydra with infinite heads, capable of evolving uncontrollably. In reality, however, our country has never made serious investments on the only strategy capable of monitoring the variants: the sequencing, ie the isolation of the genetic makeup of SARS-CoV-2 from positive swabs. Since the onset of the epidemic (February 2020), Italy has in fact deposited in the international database Gisaid just 90,995 sequences out of nearly seven million cases, the1,22%, the worst figure in Western Europe together with the Spanish one (1.21%), far from the minimum threshold of 5% recommended by the World Health Organization and a long way from best standard from the Denmark (which sequences at 31.59%) and del United Kingdom (all’11,62%).

The last to underline it, in an interview with Republic, is the physical Roberto Battiston. “We are witnessing a kind of collective removal on the Delta variant, but there is no evidence that it has disappeared, ”he warned. “Indeed, it is probably the main culprit of deaths and ICU admissions. We are convinced to face only one enemy, Covid-19, while we are faced with two very different variants, which adopt completely different strategies and have completely different consequences. To be able to deal effectively with this phase it is essential to have a clear distinction. And maybe work towards distinguish who gets sick from one variant rather than the other “. Almost impossible for Italy, where – despite the commitments made by politics in the last year – they are active on sequencing only 70 workshops for 60 million inhabitants. “We are far behind, we have insufficient data and with great delay compared to the development of the pandemic. So let’s move almost blindly, firing the same weapons at very different targets ”, summarizes the scientist.

The result is that in the last thirty days (while in the newspapers and on TV there was only talk of Omicron) the sequencing of Italy reached its lowest point. Since last December 9, the genomes loaded by our laboratories on Gisaid have been 4.604 his 1.841.147 positive tests, lo 0,25%. In the same period, despite a general decrease due to the holidays, Germany has sequenced seven times more than us (1.81%), the United Kingdom 17 times as much (4.22%). That Delta has not disappeared at all, however, is clear the same data available on the platform: of the 4,604 Italian sequences of the last month, the 31,2% (1,338) corresponded to Omicron and ben il 65,5% (2.801) to the Indian variant, while Alfa (English) and Gamma (Brazilian) have now de facto disappeared. Globally, Delta still represents the 42,3% of the cases analyzed (at the end of November it was 96.6%), since it grows to 60,9% in Europe (excluding the UK, where Omicron has a prevalence of 72.5%). Omicron, on the other hand, is now at84,6% in Africa and al 100% in South Africa, the country that has struck before all the others.

In this context, here is that a Cipro the professor Leondios Kostrikis, head of the Island University Biotechnology and Molecular Virology Laboratory, announces that he has isolated in 25 patients a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 that combines the “genetic signatures” of the Delta and Omicron variants, called Deltacron. The related sequences were deposited on Gisaid on 7 January: this is one of the first uploads by Cypriot researchers, who have so far deposited very few genomes. Statistical analysis – reports the agency Bloomberg – shows that the relative frequency of Deltacron infection is higher among hospitalized patients for Covid compared to those not hospitalized. Finally, scientists report an increasing incidence of a sub-lineage “split” from Omicron (BA.2), also with various points in common with Delta. How widespread is it? “Unfortunately we do not know with certainty because world surveillance is scarce. However, it seems from the Danish sequencing data (which are among the best in the world) that BA2 has taken over in Denmark, even displacing the original Omicron “, writes the neurobiologist on Twitter. Giorgio Gilestro of Imperial College London.

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