The COVID-19 infection is mutating so fast, new variants like delta and omicron are combining into a deltacron variant before scientists can even agree on its existence.
The discovery of deltacron, a deadly mix of the more virulent delta variant and the extremely contagious but less severe omicron, was denounced as a laboratory mistake from a testing contamination, but the professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus is refuting those claims.
Leonidos Kostrikis told Bloomberg News the deltacron cases he has chronicled “indicate an evolutionary pressure to an ancestral strain to acquire these mutations and not a result of a single recombination event.”
Not only were the deltacron cases higher among those hospitalized for COVID-19 than among non-hospitalized, but there is also evidence they have been reported in multiple countries, according to Kostrikis.
“These findings refute the undocumented statements that deltacron is a result of a technical error,” he added to Bloomberg via email.
Among the critics pointing to the potential of contamination is Imperial Department of Infectious Disease’s Tom Peacock.
“Lots of reports of Omicron sequences carrying Delta-like mutations (eg P681R or L452R),” Peacock tweeted. “Although a subset of these might end up being real, the vast majority will most likely turn out to be contamination or coinfection. No clear signals of anything real or nasty happening (yet).”
Peacock even took on the media’s reporting on the deltacron variant.
“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,” he added via tweet.