Health experts are pushing back against claims that patients in Cyrpus were infected with a new variant of COVID-19 that appeared to be a combination of the Delta and Omicron variants.
Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus, dubbed the variant “deltacron” and claimed that 25 patients were infected with the new strain.
After news of the mutated strain spread, many health experts said the shocking test results were likely the result of contamination and not a new strain of COVID-19.
“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,” wrote on Twitter.
Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, with the World Health Organization, also weighed in, tweeting that the samples were likely contaminated.
“Okay people let’s make this a teachable moment, there is no such thing as #Deltacron (Just like there is no such thing as #Flurona) #Omicron and #Delta did NOT form a super variant This is likely sequencing artifact (lab contamination of Omicron fragments in a Delta specimen),” she tweeted.
Dr. Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, an infectious diseases expert at Emory University in Atlanta, echoed the opinions of other experts but wanted that mutated strains of a virus can combine to form a new strain.
“Recombination can occur in coronaviruses. The enzyme that replicates their genome has a tendency to slip-off the RNA strand it is copying and then rejoining where it left off. With #delta and #omicron both in circulation, dual infection with both variants increases this concern,” she wrote.