In recent days, you may have encountered a story or three regarding the so-called “Deltacron” variant, described in one report as a COVID-19 strain that’s effectively a combo of the previously confirmed Delta and Omicron variants. Amid the growing coverage of “Deltacron,” however, a number of experts on such matters have publicly voiced skepticism regarding the attention being given to this purported development.
On Saturday, Bloomberg—citing a Sigma TV interview—wrote that the strain had been found in Cyprus. Leondios Kostrikis, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus, was quoted as saying that 25 cases of the strain had been identified. Sequences for those cases, per the report, were shared with the international GISAID database.
In a follow-up statement shared with Bloomberg on Sunday, Kostrikis—who also serves as the head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology—pushed back against critics of his initial statements. According to Kostrikis, the cases in question “indicate an evolutionary pressure to an ancestral strain to acquire these mutations and not a result of a single recombination event.”
Critics of the still-in-progress spread of “Deltacron” coverage, meanwhile, have instead pointed to what they argue is the far more likely scenario of a lab contamination. London’s Imperial Department of Infectious Disease virologist Tom Peacock, for example, has shared a slew of statements on “Deltacron,” including one in which he compiled a thread of “evidence this is likely not real.”
Elsewhere, infectious disease physician Krutika Kuppalli—whose résumé includes work with the World Health Organization—compared the coverage surrounding “Deltacron” to the recent influx of headlines seemingly purporting the existence of a “Flurona” combo.
“Okay people let’s make this a teachable moment,” Kuppalli said Sunday. “There is no such thing as #Deltacron (Just like there is no such thing as #Flurona.” Per Kuppalli, Omicron and Delta “did NOT form a super variant.”
Below, see additional assessments, including from WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove and more.