Scientists say they found COVID infections combining omicron, delta

(NEXSTAR) – Scientists in Europe believe they have found a new strain of COVID-19 infection made up of both the delta and omicron variants.

Leondios Kostrikis, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, says the strain, dubbed “deltacron,” is a co-infection of the delta and omicron variants, Bloomberg reported Saturday.

Kostrikis describes deltacron as having delta’s genetic background with some of omicron’s mutations, CyprusMail reports. According to Kostrikis, 25 samples of deltacron have been found in Cyprus, 11 of which were from patients already hospitalized with COVID-19. Fourteen were from individuals among “the general population.”

These samples have been submitted to GISAID, an international database that tracks viruses and variant strains of COVID-19. GISAID is one of three databases the World Health Organization uses to identify and track COVID-19 variants.

As of Saturday, neither GISAID or WHO has identified the deltacron strain as a variant.

Having two variants at the same time isn’t impossible, Dr. Jim Conway, medical director with the immunization program at UW Health in Wisconsin, recently told Nexstar. Because it is possible to have two viruses simultaneously – like ‘flurona,’ a co-infection of influenza and COVID-19 – Dr. Conway notes there is nothing indicating you can’t experience two variants at once.

Omicron is currently the most prevalent variant in the U.S., making up more than 95% of the country’s cases of COVID-19, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

from KRON4

Delta, American join United in dropping most US change fees

DALLAS (AP) — This could be the final boarding call for the $200 ticket-change fee that has enraged so many U.S. airline travelers over the past decade.

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines said Monday that they are dropping the fee on most tickets for domestic flights, copying United Airlines’ move one day earlier.

Southwest Airlines didn’t levy change fees to start with, so Monday’s announcements mean that the four biggest U.S. carriers will have roughly similar policies.

Airlines are being battered by the coronavirus pandemic, as travel restrictions and fear of contracting the virus are keeping travelers at home. Normally in summer, 2 million or more people pass through security checkpoints at U.S. airports each day, but that number hasn’t been above 900,000 since mid-March, the early days of the pandemic.

To woo passengers, airlines have required face masks and stepped up cleaning of planes. A few, including Delta, Southwest and JetBlue, limit seating, although American and United try to sell every seat.

Delta and American said they have permanently eliminated change fees for all domestic flights for premium and most economy fares except the lowest fare, called basic economy. American said it will let all passengers fly standby for earlier same-day flights without charge beginning Oct. 1. United is making that change on Jan. 1.

Both carriers also extended temporary waivers on change fees for domestic and international flights, so ditching the fees permanently won’t make much difference to passengers right away. But by doing so, United, Delta and American are abandoning a fee that has drawn particular scorn from customers, consumer advocates and members of Congress.

Airline shares fell on Monday after United’s decision and the expectation that other big airlines would be forced to ditch their change fees too. Delta and United both ended down 3.6%, American shed 4% and Southwest retreated 3.2%.

Even without change fees, plenty of other fees will survive. Charges for checking a bag were greatly expanded more than a decade ago. Many airlines also charge extra for seat assignments, more legroom, priority boarding and other perks, and they provided a growing source of revenue for airlines until the pandemic hit.

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from KRON4

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