Deltacron: New variant or lab error? Here’s what we know

Here’s why experts think deltacron may not be an actual variant

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 11 January 2022

A new SARS-CoV-2 variant deltacron has emerged in Cyprus just a few days after France announced the discovery of the variant ‘IHU’. Media reports suggest that the deltacron variant has a similar genetic background as the delta variant, as well as some mutations from omicron.

Even though experts say that it is not something to be worried about at the moment, they are divided on whether the variant was formed due to constant mutation or because of contamination at the sequencing lab.

So here is what we know: In the case of delatacron, 25 samples collected in Cyprus had 10 mutations from omicron. As many as 11 of these samples were from people who were hospitalised with COVID-19, while 14 were from the general population, reported Jerusalem Post, citing Cyprus Mail.

According to Dr Leondios Kostrikis, the head of the laboratory of biotechnology and molecular virology at the University of Cyprus, the virus mutates more frequently in hospitalised patients and could point to a correlation between the new variant and hospitalisation.

But that might not be the only cause of the emergence of deltacron. Tom Peacock, a virologist with Imperial Department of Infectious Disease, London, said on social media that deltacron may not be an actual variant, but possibly a result of contamination.

According to him, when new variants come through the sequencing lab, contamination isn’t that uncommon. “This is especially the case since tiny volumes of liquid can cause contamination and it has nothing to do with the quality of the lab.”

The COVID-19 virus goes through a number of mutations with each infection. The possibility of another variant always looms over the horizon and we need to follow the protocol and vaccinate ourselves to stop the pandemic from wreaking any more havoc.

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