Most people would have heard of “deltracron’, a recombinant variant made from the omicron and delta variants. I do not know if deltracron has survived. Most people would also have heard of the recombinant Omicron XE, which is a recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2. The status of Omicron XE is also unknown.
Why are recombinant variants potentially more dangerous than mutated variants? A recombinant variant is like a quantum leap for the virus. It allows it to make a huge change in its genetic pool. It’s the mRNA’s version of sex. It allows the virus to move into an almost completely new genetic space from the 2 ‘parents’, as can easily be see from the diagram below.
Recombinants are essentially formed when a person is infected with 2 or more variants at any one time. Most people do not know that omicron XA to XZ (skipping XI and XO) have already been catalogued/registered on the Pangolin data base. That is 24 recombinant Omicron variants in addition to the 300 odd Omicron mutated variants (or more). It gets even better as they have already assigned the letters XAA, XAB, XAC, XAD, XAE, XAF, XAG, and XAH already too.
Here is the basic structure of some of them.
I warned in January 2021 that this was a potential disaster we would face if we allowed the virus to spread by living with it. Vaccines have not solved the problem. They have made it worse through vaccine complacency and more asymptomatic and potential dual carriers.
At this very moment there are 18.6 million recorded actively infected people with covid19, but I would suggest the number may be 3 times higher as there are many vaccinated asymptomatic people and many with mild symptoms who just do not get tested. So at least 50-60 million people are infected right now and this “virus pool” remains no matter what we do now. It is permanent so to speak. As someone recovers another one is infected. It is in this virus pool that new recombinant and mutated variants form.
When Omicron first appeared some people suggested it was a recombinant of delta and alpha but later it was confirmed it came form the original Wuhan strain. I speculated that is may have been a recombinant of the Wuhan strain and the common cold, but it is more likely just a heavily mutated version of the Wuhan strain that developed inside an immune compromised person or a person with AIDS. It has about 30 mutations on the spike protein compared to the Wuhan SARS-CoV2 strain and about 50 overall.
You may know that all the Omicron BA’s are mutated variants of omicron although I have always said that BA.2 is very different (same as BA.4 and BA.5). We are now starting to use the letters BC.1, BC.2, BD.1, BE.1, BE.1.1, BE.2, BF.1, BF.2, BF.3, BG.1, BG.2, and BG.3, and the list of mutated variants and recombinants is growing exponentially almost.