Reported ‘deltacron’ Likely Not Real Variant, Virologist Says

(KXAN) – A reported new variant of COVID-19 discovered by a Cypriot researcher is said to combine the delta and omicron variants – informally dubbed ‘deltacron’.

Bloomberg News reported on Saturday that Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus, had discovered omicron-like genetic signatures in the delta’s genomes.

Kostrikis and his team say they have found 25 similar cases. The researcher told the Cyprus Sigma television network on Friday, “we’ll see in the future whether this strain is more pathological or more contagious,” but added that he believed omicron would ultimately remain the dominant strain.

But some experts doubt the alleged new variant – indicating it’s more likely to be lab contamination between delta and omicron. In addition, as Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at the Imperial Department of Infectious Diseases in Britain, explains, it is very likely that these are co-infections of the two strains.

“Small update,” Peacock tweeted Saturday, “The Cypriot ‘deltacron’ sequences reported by several mainstream media appear to be quite clearly a contamination – they do not cluster on a phylogenetic tree and have an entire arctic primer sequencing amplicon of omicron in an otherwise delta backbone. . “

Peacock further explained that contamination is quite common when new variants are sequenced in the lab. He says contamination can occur even with “very, very small volumes of fluid.”

Before a new variant is filed, he says the suspected strain should first be detected in several other labs.

In November, Peacock warned of the then unnamed omicron variant ahead of its classification and rapid spread, telling The Guardian that “an incredibly high amount of spike mutations suggests this could be a real concern.”

Peacock says he also doubts the timing of the so-called “deltacron,” because “recombinants” don’t usually appear for weeks or months of two strains circulating around each other. He adds that if any recombinants will eventually be found, it is “almost definitely” contamination in this case.

“Finally, it’s worth adding,” Peacock writes, “much of what we understand about what makes delta more transmissible / infectious, omicron already has – currently don’t know what omicron might have to do with it. gain delta (with what we currently know at least). “

Meanwhile, Cypriot researchers sent their results to GISAID, a global virus database.

The United States is currently recording an average of more than 600,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day, according to CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s a 72% increase from the previous week and a record number for the pandemic as a whole.

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