Just when you thought the news about COVID couldn’t get any worse, a Greek scientist claims to have discovered a COVID “super-variant” that could be as virulent as Omicron and as deadly as delta. He has named the variant “Deltacron.”
Researchers in Cyprus have claimed they have discovered a COVID-19 variant that combines Delta and Omicron, dubbing it “Deltacron” – but other experts have quickly dismissed the claim and blamed the finding on contamination, according to global reporting.
Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus, and his team identified 25 cases of the hybrid strain, which they named “Deltacron” due to Omicron-like markers found it what appeared to be Delta genomes.
“There are currently Omicron and Delta co-infections, and we found this strain that is a combination of these two,” Kostrikis told Sigma TV.
“We will see in the future if this strain is more pathological or more contagious or if it will prevail” against the two top variants, Delta and Omicron, he added.
Kostrikis, head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, said his team’s analysis shows that “Deltacron” is more often found in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 than those with the illness who are not hospitalized.
The Cypriot researchers have sent their findings to GISAID, a Germany-based international database that tracks viruses, Bloomberg News reported.
The team leader also said he believes Deltacron” will overtake Omicron, which if true could be a very deadly situation.
However, other experts have already thrown cold water on his team’s findings.
Dr. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College, said the findings are “quite clearly contamination” and don’t meet the criteria to be considered a new variant.
“The Cypriot ‘Deltacron’ sequences reported by several large media outlets look to be quite clearly contamination — they do not cluster on a phylogenetic tree and have a whole Artic primer sequencing amplicon of Omicron in an otherwise Delta backbone,” he wrote, the Mirror reported.
And Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease expert at the World Health Organization, argued that Deltacron is “not real” and likely due to lab contamination.
“Okay, people, let’s make this a teachable moment; there is no such thing as #Deltacron,” the infectious diseases physician wrote. “#Omicron and #Delta did NOT form a super variant. This is likely sequencing artifact (lab contamination of Omicron fragments in a Delta specimen).”
She added, “Let’s not merge the names of infectious diseases and leave that to celebrity couples.”