Global health experts are casting doubts over reports of a new possible Covid-19 mutation that appeared to be a combination of both the delta and omicron variants, dubbed as “deltacron,” saying it’s more likely that the “strain” is the result of a lab processing error.
At the weekend it was reported that a researcher in Cyprus had discovered the potential new variant. Bloomberg News reported Saturday that Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus, had called the strain “deltacron,” because of its omicron-like genetic signatures within the delta genomes.
Kostrikis and his team said they had found 25 cases of the mutation, with the report adding that at the time it was too early to tell whether there were more cases of the apparent new strain or what impact it could have. Bloomberg reported that the findings had been sent to Gisaid, an international database that tracks changes in the virus, on Jan. 7.
Some experts have since cast doubt over the findings, with one World Health Organization official tweeting on Sunday that “deltacron,” which was trending on the social media platform at the weekend, is “not real” and “is likely due to sequencing artifact,” a variation introduced by a non-biological process.
WHO Covid expert Dr. Krutika Kuppalli said on Twitter that, in this case, there was likely to have been a “lab contamination of Omicron fragments in a Delta specimen.”
Other scientists have agreed that the findings could be the result of a lab error, with virologist Dr. Tom Peacock from Imperial College London also tweeting that “the Cypriot ‘Deltacron’ sequences reported by several large media outlets look to be quite clearly contamination.”
Source : Bloomberg