Even as cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 are on the rise across the globe, a new strain of coronavirus that combines Delta and Omicron has been detected in Cyprus. The new strain has been named -- Deltacron -- due to the identification of Omicron-like genetic signatures within the Delta genomes.
"There are currently Omicron and Delta co-infections and we found this strain that is a combination of these two," Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, said in an interview with the Sigma TV network of Cyprus on Friday.
Cases so far?
According to media reports, Leondios and his team have identified 25 cases of ‘Deltacron’ in Cyprus so far. The findings were sent to Munich-headquartered GISAID, a body established in 2008 to provide open access to genomic data of influenza viruses, on January 7.
As of now, no international health authority has recognised or designated the Deltacron variant. While a detailed study is yet to be done on how the new Deltacron variant will impact the world, Leondios has said the "new strain is likely to be displaced by the highly contagious Omicron variant".
Is it a new variant?
Some virologists say that Deltacron is not a new variant as it cannot be traced or plotted on a phylogenetic tree of SARS-CoV-2 viruses. In a tweet, virologist Tom Peacock said, "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."
Meanwhile, Cyprus Health Minister Michalis Hadjipandelas has said that the new "variant" is not something to worry about at this moment.
First Published: IST