Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
12 Jan 2022
2:25 pm

Is Deltacron a new variant – Here’s what you need to know

Cheryl Kahla

Is Deltacron a new variant, or a combination of the Delta variant and Omicron? Here's what you need to know.

Photo: iStock

There is a new Covid-19 phrase floating around cyberspace this week and it sounds scary. Is Deltacron a new variant? is there a reason for concern?

Since the start of the pandemic, several new Covid-19 variants made headlines, four of which have been designated as “variants of concern” – Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron. 

Deltracron: Factsheet

Is Deltacron a hybrid of Delta and Omicron?

Deltacron is an alleged hybrid Covid-19 mutation first discovered in a Cyprus lab earlier this month. It is most likely the result of a lab contamination.

The mutation has “the genetic background of the Delta variant along with some of the mutations of Omicron”, but there’s no reason to worry just yet.

It is possible for different mutations to combine, even though it’s rare. Based on the data available, Deltacron is not a combination of the Delta variant and Omicron.

Furthermore, World Health Organization’s Covid-19 expert Dr Krutika Kuppalli said Deltacron is “not real”, and “is likely due to sequencing artifact.”

Is Deltacron a new variant?

Tom Peacock, a virologist with the infectious diseases department at Imperial College London, explains: “The Cypriot Deltacron sequences look to be quite clearly contamination”.

Meanwhile, the head of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute, Jeffrey Barrett said Deltacron “is almost certainly not a biological recombinant of the Delta and Omicron lineages”.

Jeffrey Barrett, the head of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative in Britain said the alleged mutations are “located on a part of the genome that is vulnerable to error in certain sequencing procedures”.

“This is almost certainly not a biological recombinant of the Delta and Omicron lineages,” Barrett said earlier this week.

No need to worry – Dr Karim

Meanwhile, South Africa’s infectious diseases epidemiologist, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, said we shouldn’t be too concerned about new variants.

He said “it’s pretty easy” to prevent new variants from spreading “because natural past infection and vaccines would prevent it from spreading”.

It is therefore vital to first establish whether a variant is “neutralised by our vaccine antibodies and by antibodies that people with natural Omicron and Delta infections”

UK expert quotes from AFP.