Experts said Monday that an alleged hybrid coronavirus mutation dubbed “Deltacron” reportedly discovered in a Cyprus lab is most likely the result of a lab contamination, and not a new worrying variant.
Virologists have dismissed reports from Cyprus of a new COVID-19 variant, saying the detection was likely due to a processing error caused by lab contamination.
The lab in Cyprus reported 25 cases of what some dubbed “Deltacron,” an Omicron-like genetic signature within delta genomes, but multiple experts say current data does not support the theory that variants have combined.
WHO’s technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, stated: “Let’s not use words like deltacron, flurona or flurone,” adding “these words imply combination of viruses/variants and this is not happening.”
Deltacron is not currently listed under the WHO’s “Variants of Concern” or “Variants of Interest” database. Montreal-based bioethicist and geneticist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and director of community outreach for the Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network Fatima Tokhmafshan said current data does not support the combined variant theory.
Wellcome Sanger Institute head Jeffrey Barrett echoed similar sentiments stating: “This is almost certainly not a biological recombinant of the delta and omicron lineages.”
Jeffrey Barrett stated the alleged mutations are found “on a part of the genome that is vulnerable to error in certain sequencing procedures.”
Some virologists and experts are dismissing the detection as likely lab contamination as current data does not support the combined variant theory.
Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus, called the strain “deltacron,” because of its omicron-like genetic signatures within the delta genomes.