Scientists are no longer dismissive of Deltacron, a merger of two coronavirus variants first pointed out by a Cypriot scientist, with British media reporting on a strain that appears after all to have evolved in someone who caught both at the same time.
According to British media, health officials in the United Kingdom “are now officially keeping tabs on a Covid variant that is a hybrid of the Omicron and Delta strains.”
“The super-mutant Deltacron is thought to have evolved in a patient who caught both variants at the same time but it is not clear if it was imported or originated in Britain,” it was reported by Daily Mail.
Similar deltacron claims made global headlines last month after Leondios Kostrikis, who runs a lab in biotechnology and molecular virology in Cyprus, said he had discovered infections from both omicron and delta variants in a newly identified strain dubbed DeltaCron, meaning a combination of the two known strains.
It was unclear whether people would be infected by a hybrid such as Deltacron or both Delta and Omicron could have swapped genes after infecting the same cell in the same person at the same time
Kostrikis, whose doctoral student reportedly spotted 25 cases of the mutation, said he had sent his findings to an international database that tracks changes in the coronavirus but later withdrew the information amid harsh criticism.
Experts around the world had moved quickly to cast doubt over the findings as the topic was trending on social media, with researchers and officials suggesting the strain discovered by Kostrikis could have emerged due to lab contamination and sequencing errors introduced by a non-biological process.
But the Cypriot scientist dismissed some of the comments that raised doubt over the discovery, saying “they don’t know the results that we have,”
“How could this be an error? Our results show that evolutionary pressure on a primordial Delta variant created polymorphisms such as Omicron and then developed into DeltaCron genealogies,” Kostrikis argued.
While scientists say Covid variants could still technically merge through a process called recombination, they also believe Deltacron is most likely a result of a lab contamination.
It is still unclear whether people would be infected by a hybrid such as Deltacron or both Delta and Omicron could have swapped genes after infecting the same cell in the same person at the same time.
Cypriot scientist’s Deltacron claim gains traction as UK officials keep tabs on hybrid strain, specifrics unclear as experts still not convinced