Leonidos Kostrikis, a scientific researcher from Cyprus, has claimed to have apparently found a new mutation of the novel coronavirus that combines the characteristics of the Delta and Omicron variants. The claim has raised eyebrows of many scientists and researchers, who think that the so-called variant is a mere result of errors during laboratory testing practices.
Kostrikis, a professor at the University of Cyprus, along with his team, had discovered the new strain. Also the head of Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, Kostrikis has now named the variant “Deltacron”.
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According to him, the variant has a genetic signature similar to Omicron, within the Delta genome.
Soon after the claim, Kostrikis was approached by many news outlets, including the Cypriot broadcaster, Sigma TV. Speaking to them, he added that the near future will deduce if the newfound variant will begin to exist, and will answer questions on its contagion and pathology.
Many experts poured in on the discovery, suggesting that the variant is a result of contamination of the two variants in the lab. Thomas Peacock, a researcher at London’s Barclay Laboratory took to Twitter and wrote, “The Cypriot ‘Deltacron’ sequences reported by several large media outlets look to be quite clearly contamination.” He added that the contamination does not signify the quality of a lab, and can occasionally happen in a sequencing lab.
Responding to the scrutiny, Kostrikis shared a statement with Bloomberg News through an email, stating that the variant identified shows a biological pressure on the novel strain, causing it to acquire mutations. He further slammed the contamination rumours, saying that the mutation is not the result of a single event like contamination.
Meanwhile, experts suggest that the phenomenon of mixed variants is well-known, and can occur when several variants exist at the same time. Many experts have added that the discovery is not something to be fretted upon for now.