A few days ago, a research group from the University of Cyprus led by Prof. Leondios Kostrikis reported the genome data of a COVID-19 variant allegedly discovered by the team to the GISAID scientific network. The molecular virology professor and his team uncovered 25 cases of a variant of the corona which they called “Deltakron”. Deltakron supposedly combines the properties of the well-known Delta variant with the current rapidly expanding Omicron variant. Deltakron could be of concern if the variant was as contagious as the Micron and at the same time triggered the course of the more severe disease than the Delta variant.
Deltakron: international experts doubt the existence
After the initial media enthusiasm for the alleged new variant of the virus, more and more virologists and experts are now commenting on the research findings from Cyprus. Many experts attribute the 25 sequenced cases with mixed properties of the delta and omicron variants to laboratory errors. It is assumed that it is likely that the team led by Prof. Kostrikis unintentionally contaminated samples of a delta strain with omicron during corona virus sequencing. The international research community does not want to criticize the way the Cypriot research group works. However, experts point out that such cross-contamination can occur in gene sequencing labs.
The most important indication for experts in evaluating the “new” Deltakron variant is the exact location in the genome of the virus that is said to be affected by the mutations. Researchers from Cyprus detected omcron mutations at a point in the genome of a Delta strain known for erroneous analysis in sequencing. So, according to expert assessment, everything points to a sequencing error due to contaminated samples.
Omicron remains highly contagious
In a few weeks it will be clear if Deltakron really exists. Until then, reports on the new variant combination can only be enjoyed by reservation. Meanwhile, the currently rampant omicron variant continues to advance to become the dominant virus variant. It is already in the US and UK. It is assumed that Omikron will soon become the dominant variant in Germany as well. In this country, the daily number of infections is currently increasing rapidly. The reason for this is the rapid spread of omicron. The variant is more contagious than Delta or Alpha, but in the current state of knowledge it appears to cause a milder course of the disease.