‘Deltacron:’ Scientist claims new COVID variant combines delta and omicron

Some experts say finding could be result of lab error

FILE - This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Viruses are constantly mutating, with coronavirus variants circulating around the globe. (NIAID-RML via AP) (Uncredited)

A scientist in Cypress claims to have found a new variant of COVID-19 that combines characteristics of both the delta and omicron variants, but some other experts are chalking the finding up to a lab error.

Bloomberg News reported that Leonidos Kostrikis, a University of Cyprus professor who runs the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, said multiple tests show what’s called a recombinant form of the virus, something that happens when there are several variants of a virus.

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Kostrikis said deltacron infections are higher among patients hospitalized for COVID than among non-hospitalized patients. He also said samples were processed for genetic sequencing in more than one country, including in Israel.

Bloomberg reported that the findings in 25 cases were reported to the international tracking database Gisaid on Jan. 7.

However, other scientists think lab contamination is the more likely explanation for this new phenomenon, though one scientist interviewed by Bloomberg said a deltacron variant would not be completely surprising.

No international body has recognized deltacron as a variant as of yet and if it was, it would likely be designated by a Greek letter, per the World Health Organization’s system.

Cypress’ health minister said more details would be given at a news conference this week, but as of right now deltacron was not of concern.

About the Author:

Christie Zizo joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.