A researcher from the tiny Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus has reportedly discovered a strain of COVID-19 that contains a similar genetic background to the Delta variant, coupled with ten Omicron mutations. The new strain named 'Deltacron' has reportedly infected 25 people in Cyprus.
Leondios Kostrikis, the professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, conducted the study on the new variant.
According to Kostrikis' study, the relative frequency of the combined infection is higher among patients hospitalised due to COVID-19 than non-hospitalised patients. Following the developments, on 7 January, the sequences of the affected cases were sent to GISAID, the international database that tracks changes in the virus.
Kostrikis said, "There are currently omicron and delta co-infections, and we found this strain that is a combination of these two." He added, "We will see in the future if this strain is more pathological or more contagious or if it will prevail", reported NDTV.
However, Michael Hadjipantela, the Cypriot Health Minister, stated on 9 January that the variant isn't of concern and not something to worry about at the moment. He said further updates regarding the new variant would be shared at a news conference in the coming week, reported NDTV.
Experts Comments On Deltacron?
Dr Krutika Kuppalli, a WHO member of the Health Emergencies & COVID-19 team, denied the 'Deltacron' variant and suspected it to result from lab contamination.
Okay people let's make this a teachable moment, there is no such thing as #Deltacron (Just like there is no such thing as #Flurona) #Omicron and #Delta did NOT form a super variant— Krutika Kuppalli, MD FIDSA (@KrutikaKuppalli) January 9, 2022
This is likely sequencing artifact (lab contamination of Omicron fragments in a Delta specimen) https://t.co/DDvM24bt9g
Dr Eric Topol, the founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in the United States, called it a scariant, as its name unnecessarily scares the people.
"Deltacron" is a scariant.— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) January 9, 2022
One less thing to worry about.
Dr Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, a Cameroonian medical doctor and clinical researcher, has requested to not jump to the conclusion too soon. She pointed 'Deltacron' to result from sample contamination.
On the #deltacron story, just because I have been asked about it many times in the last 24h, please interpret with caution. The information currently available is pointing to contamination of a sample as opposed to true recombination of #delta and #omicron variants.— BK Titanji #ILookLikeAScientist (@Boghuma) January 9, 2022
It must be considered that the World Health Organisation (WHO), or any other national health organisations, are yet to recognise 'Deltacron' as a new variant. According to WHO, the established nomenclature systems for naming and tracking SARS-CoV-2 genetic lineages by GISAID, Nextstrain and Pango are currently used by scientists and scientific research.