Updated 17 February 2022
Even as cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 are on the rise across the globe, researchers have discovered a possible COVID-19 strain that appears to combine both the delta and omicron variants, dubbed “Deltacron” in Cyprus. On February 17th 2022, UK Health officials just found a patient who was diagnosed with both Delta and Omicron variants.
Read further to know what we have discovered about Deltacron so far.
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What is Deltacron?
The new strain has been named “Deltacron” due to the identification of Omicron-like genetic signatures within the Delta genomes. This strain was founded by Leonidos Kostrikis, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and his team.
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. The report further adds that it is too early to determine whether there were more cases of the apparent new strain or what impact it could have.
As of now, no international health authority has recognized 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”.
Recently, health officials in the UK found a patient that got infected with both Delta and Omicron variants. Although they are still not clear whether the Deltacron originated in the UK or not. Despite the findings, The UK Health Security Agency stated that it is still not “concerning” since the number of cases is low and there hasn’t been any danger of any more outbreaks from other variants.
What are the symptoms of the Deltacron Variant?
Symptoms of the Deltacron variant, which is a hybrid of the Omicron and Delta variants, might be the symptoms experienced in the Omicron variant, such as runny nose, cough, and fatigue. Although there is no clear explanation about the symptoms yet, we recommend that you get tested when you experience symptoms such as sore throat, cough, weakness, runny nose, and loss of taste and smell.
Doubts about Deltacron
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.
The virologist Tom Peacock, with Imperial College London, tweeted that the sequences “look to be quite clearly contamination”.
can’t say for sure but most likely they were all sequenced on the same sequencing run in the same lab on the same day which had a contamination issue – this is what’s generally been found to have happened in the past
— Tom Peacock (@PeacockFlu) January 9, 2022
Another expert named Krutika Kupalli, a member of the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 technical team stated that the strain is a “contamination of Omicron fragments in a Delta specimen”.
This is likely sequencing artifact (lab contamination of Omicron fragments in a Delta specimen) https://t.co/DDvM24bt9g
— Krutika Kuppalli, MD FIDSA (@KrutikaKuppalli) January 9, 2022
Another high-profile scientist, Dr. Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, an infectious diseases expert at Emory University in Atlanta, advised a cautionary approach to this new COVID-19 strain through her tweets.
The best thing we can do besides worrying about it and coining variant names that sound like a “Transformers” villain, is ensuring that vaccines are available to everyone and combining vaccination with other strategies that give the virus fewer opportunities to spread.
— BK Titanji #ILookLikeAScientist (@Boghuma) January 9, 2022
The WHO also stated that it is possible to get infected with more than one variant of SARS-CoV-2. Other than that, there were a lot of people who got infected with both Influenza and COVID-19 at the same time, which is called ‘coinfection’.
What are the risks associated with Deltacron?
While health authorities remain vigilant for COVID-19 variant cases, if an individual is infected with both variants simultaneously, then there is a possibility that both variants can infect a human cell at the same time. It can escalate the chances of their genetic material (RNA) getting mixed as they begin to multiply inside the cells. The new recombinant variant would include genetic material acquired from both variants in such a situation.
Strains of mutated variants of Covid-19 are always something that needs to be carefully observed and evaluated. At present, there are simply insufficient facts available for anyone to make a credible assessment as to what the Deltacron strain represents.
In other words, the experts still doing their best to discover this new strain of COVID-19 to deem whether it is dangerous or not. In the meantime, we have to be cautious at all times and always practice the safety and health protocol whenever and wherever we are to prevent the further spread of the virus.
If you have questions about coronavirus, it’s best to ask your doctor, healthcare provider, or public health department.