A research team at the University of Cyprus has identified a new COVID-19 variant in 25 cases where the virus has signatures of both the Delta as well as the Omicron variants, according to Bloomberg.
Countries around the world are struggling to contain the infection caused by the Omicron variant. Close to two million new cases were reported across the globe yesterday, the Bloomberg report added. Last week, we had reported a new variant dubbed IHU that was found in patients in France. While it had a staggering number of mutations, it was unlikely to spread across the globe, experts had said. But the news of a variant that contains signatures of Delta and Omicron, both known to be highly transmissible variants will have many people worried.
The discovery came after the research team led by Professor Leondios Kostrikis, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology in the country, found the combined variant in 25 patients.
In an interview with a local TV station, Kostrikis clarified that the variant they had found was seen more in individuals who had been hospitalized due to COVID-19, and the sequences were now sent to GISAID, a database of genomic data of influenza virus and now coronaviruses.
Though, Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College, dismissed the finding as a result of contamination or co-infection with Delta and Omicron variants in the patients.
Small update: 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.— Tom Peacock (@PeacockFlu) January 8, 2022
In a statement emailed to Bloomberg, Kostrikis refuted this claim and said that their finding wasn't an error. His statement also claimed that the sequencing for the samples was performed separately and in different countries. A sample submitted to GISAID from Israel also carried traits of belonging to deltacron. Kostrikis had previously said that he did not expect deltacron to prevail against Omicron.
Nick Loman, a professor of microbial genomics at the University of Birmingham, in the U.K. told Bloomberg that a recombinant form of variant wouldn't be a complete surprise, since multiple variants were currently circulating in the population.
Last year, we had reported that a 90-year-old woman had contracted both Alpha and Beta variants of coronavirus while a co-infection of Flu and coronavirus has also been reported, although they are not variants of the same infectious agent.