Global health experts are casting doubt over the COVID-19 “deltacron” variant, a newly reported strain of the coronavirus named for its alleged combination of characteristics from the delta and omicron variants.
Scientists in Cyprus first shared news of the potential new strain on Friday. “There are currently omicron and delta co-infections and we found this strain that is a combination of these two,” Leondios Kostrikis, Ph.D., a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology said in an interview per Bloomberg. Dr. Kostrikis dubbed the discovery “deltacron” since the supposed new strain has similar traits to both variants.
Though Dr. Kostrikis reportedly identified 25 cases caused by the new strain, he suspected that the highly contagious omicron variant would continue to be dominant. “We will see in the future if this strain is more pathological or more contagious,” he said per Bloomberg.
Before you get too freaked out about the idea of a delta-omicron hybrid that would make “flurona” look like a case of the sniffles, global health experts have since cast doubt on Dr. Kostrikis’ COVID deltacron findings.
Delta and omicron “did NOT form a super variant,” Kruitka Kuppalli, M.D., a World Health Organization official tweeted on Sunday. Instead, “deltacron” is more likely the result of a lab error, according to health experts, per CNBC. “The information currently available is pointing to contamination of a sample as opposed to true recombination of #delta and #omicron variants,” Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, M.D., an infectious diseases expert at Emory University in Atlanta, tweeted.