Cyprus scientists discover ‘Deltacron,’ but experts dispute claim

0
32
Cyprus scientists discover 'Deltacron,' but experts dispute claim

Scientists in Cyprus have claimed they have discovered a COVID-19 variant that combines Delta and Omicron, dubbing it “Deltacron” – but experts quickly dismissed the claim and blamed the finding on contamination, according to reports.

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 in the Delta genomes, Bloomberg News reported.

“There are currently Omicron and Delta co-infections and we found this strain that is a combination of these two,” Kostrikis told Sigma TV, according to Bloomberg.

“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.

According to the team of scientists who discovered the new variant, it is more likely to be found in those people who have already been hospitalized for COVID-19.
According to the team of scientists who discovered the new variant, it is more likely to be found in those people who have already been hospitalized for COVID-19.
REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

The Cypriot researchers have sent their findings to GISAID, a Germany-based international database that tracks viruses, Bloomberg reported.

The team leader also said he believes Omicron will overtake “Deltacron.”

But other experts have already thrown cold water on the findings.

Several experts at the WHO have already dismissed the new "variant" as not a real thing.
Several experts at the WHO have already dismissed the new “variant” as not a real thing.
Kate Geraghty/The Sydney Morning Herald via Getty Images

Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease expert at the World Health Organization, argued that the 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 of (sic) names of infectious diseases and leave it to celebrity couples.”

Experts have dismissed the "supervariant" claim saying that the result was most likely due to lab contamination.
Experts have dismissed the “supervariant” claim saying that the result was most likely due to lab contamination.
Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dr. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College, also 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.

“Delta sequences with strange mutations in amplicon 72 have been turning up for ages (for example Delta + Mu NTD insertion) however, they always show this non-monophyletic pattern and are nearly always more easily explained by this primer issue exacerbating very low-level contam,” he added.

Greek virologist Dr. Gkikas Magiorkinis also denied that the finding was a new variant.

“Regarding the Deltacron (mix of Delta and Omicron) of Cyprus that was heard a lot in the Greek media recently, the first independent analyses show that this is a technical error of the laboratory in the process of reading the genome…,” wrote the expert at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Cyprus Mail reported.

Meanwhile, Dr. Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, a global health expert, also agreed with the contamination theory.

“The information currently available is pointing to contamination of a sample as opposed to true recombination of #Delta and #Omicron variants,” she wrote on Twitter.

“The best thing we can do besides worrying about it and coining variant names that sound like a ‘Transformers’ villain, is ensuring that vaccines are available to everyone and combining vaccination with other strategies that give the virus fewer opportunities to spread,” Titanji added.

Source link