A scientist who reported the existence of a new COVID-19 variant that combines the characteristics of Delta and Omicron has insisted that his findings are accurate after experts dismissed them as a result of contamination of laboratory samples. .
Dr Leonidos Kostrikis, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Cyprus, told the Cypriot channel Sigma TV that he and his colleagues have identified 25 cases of the so-called “Deltakron” variant, resulting in 11 cases being hospitalized, and Your data is stored in the GISAID global database.
The announcement sparked concern over the weekend after trending on social media, prompting many experts to rubbish Dr Kostrikis’ claims.
Dr Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease researcher with the World Health Organisation, tweeted: “Deltakron is not real and is probably due to a sequencing artifact (laboratory contamination of fragments of the Omicron sequence in a delta sample).”
“Let’s not merge names of infectious diseases and leave it to celebrity couples.”
Dr Tom Peacock of Imperial College London was also responding to the scare.
“The Cyprus ‘Deltakron’ sequences reported by several large media outlets appear to be quite clearly contaminant – they do not cluster on a phylogenetic tree and otherwise the delta backbone contains the entire Artic primer sequencing amplicon of Omicron.” Virologist tweeted,
“Delta sequences with odd mutations in amplicon 72 are changing for age (eg delta+mu ntd insertions) however, they always show this non-monophyletic pattern and are almost always easily explained by this primer issue. Which increases the level of very low contaminants.”
Dr Boghuma Kabisan Titanji, a global health expert, also tweeted that DeltaCron was most likely the result of sample contamination, but added: “With the highest level of transmission levels of SARSCoV2 globally, it is likely that recombination is occurring and it may increase to the level that we begin to see these events occur more frequently. Will it give rise to more related forms? Will it? It’s possible but no one knows.”
She continued: “The best thing we can do other than worry about it and coining different names is to find one that sounds like a transformer The villain, however, is making sure vaccines are available to all and combining vaccination with other strategies that give the virus fewer opportunities to spread. ,
However, Dr Kostrikis doubled down on his stance, telling Bloomberg in a statement on Sunday that the cases he identified “indicate an evolutionary pressure for an ancestral strain to acquire these mutations.” and is not the result of a single recombination event”.
He said his team came to their conclusions after processing samples in multiple sequencing procedures in more than one country, and that at least one sequence from Israel displayed genetic characteristics of DeltaCron.
Dr Kostrikis said DeltaCron infections are higher in patients hospitalized for COVID than non-hospitalized patients, which would rule out the hypothesis of contamination.
“These findings contradict unspecified statements that DeltaCron is the result of a technical error,” he stressed.