A Cypriot scientist backed up his claim that there is a novel strain of Covid-19 that combines features from the delta and omicron variants.
Other scientists believe Leonidos Kostrikis’ findings are the result of laboratory contamination. But he told in an emailed statement Sunday that the cases he has identified “indicate an evolutionary pressure to an ancestral strain to acquire these mutations and not a result of a single recombination event.”
Deltacron infection is higher in Covid-19 hospitalized patients than in non-hospitalized patients, which rules out contamination, according to Kostrikis, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology.
Furthermore, the samples were processed in multiple sequencing processes across multiple countries. And, according to him, at least one sequence from Israel deposited in a global database has deltacron variant genetic characteristics.
“These findings refute the undocumented statements that deltacron variant is a result of a technical error,” Kostrikis said.
Viral genes determine the forms of proteins that execute a variety of functions. Both omicron and delta have spike protein mutations that influence their capacity to enter human cells, with omicron becoming more infectious as a result.
When there are several variants of a virus circulating, recombinant variants of viruses can emerge, according to Nick Loman, a microbial genomics professor at the England’s University of Birmingham who studies the coronavirus. While a recombinant version of delta and omicron would not be surprising, he believes the Cyprus finding is more likely a “technical artefact” that arose during the process of sequencing the viral genome.
According to Philenews, Cypriot Health Minister Michael Hadjipantela stated on Sunday that the new variety is not a cause for concern and that more information will be provided during a news conference this week.