Bloomberg reported that a variant of COVID-19 that combines Delta and Omicron was found in Cyprus, according to Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology.
“There are currently Omicron and Delta co-infections and we found this strain that is a combination of these two,” Kostrikis said in an interview with Sigma TV Friday. The discovery was named “Deltacron” due to the identification of omicron-like genetic signatures within the delta genomes, he said.
The professor and his team have identified 25 such cases. The statistical analysis shows that the relative frequency of the combined infection is higher among patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 than non-hospitalized patients.
France 24 reported that health experts had cast doubt on reports of a possible COVID-19 mutation combining the Delta and Omicron variants elements. While there is little evidence on “Deltacron,” French virologists warn that the emergence of such hybrid strains is a distinct possibility.
Talk of a possible new hybrid variant spread like wildfire on social media at the weekend, leaving behind the now customary trail of conspiracy theories and black humour. French scientists struggle with the possibility of a rampant new hybrid while predicting more than half of Europeans will contract the Omicron variant.
The controversy kicked off on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, currently having Europe’s highest COVID-19 rate of infection, where a local team of scientists claimed last week to have discovered the new variant.
Whether or not this particular new strain is confirmed, the emergence in future of such hybrid variants remains a possibility, Bréchot warned: “So long as variants continue to thrive around the world, we will be at the mercy of this type of development.
“Delta appears to have originated in India and Omicron probably came from South Africa. Now we’re hearing about Deltacron in Cyprus. It is obvious that national strategies alone cannot work,” Bréchot added. “It is imperative that we define a global strategy, based on vaccinating people around the world.”