Some months back, a recent variant of the COVID-19 virus, Omicron was reported by a South African doctor. Now we are hearing a new strain is out, “the Deltacron.” As the name might loosely imply, the word comes from a conjunction of the Delta and Omicron strain. Speaking of name, definitions, and implications, rounds are going on in the medical and scientific community about this new type of COVID being a lab mistake, a combination of the Delta and Omicron strain in the same patient, or it is a new strain. Here is what we know so far.
The article will refer to the new form of COVID-19 virus as Deltacron. All mentioned instances will carry the same name. The Deltacron was discovered in Cyprus by Leonodios Kostrikis, a professor of biological science at the University of Cyprus. Analyzing samples from 25 patients tells a story: The Deltacron has Omicron-like genetic signatures within the Delta genomes. This story is as quoted by Bloomberg.
Much is not known about the Deltacron. With only 25 cases recorded, data coming out of Cyprus is not sufficient enough to arrive at certain conclusions. We can’t say for a certain if it is highly contagious or if its spread is high. What Surjen advises is to adhere to all guidelines as stipulated by the NCDC.
In the scientific community, some are for the notion that the Deltacron is a mistake made in the lab, that is, the samples used were contaminated. Professor Kostrikis that first discovered it still maintains his ground through his analysis that the Deltacron is a new variant, an effect of genome recombination. But molecular biologist, Eric Topol, Virologist, Tom Peacock, and some others do not see it as such. Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, a member of the COVID-19 technical team says the Deltacron may be a result of contamination of Omicron samples with the Delta specimen.
Genome recombination is when a minimum of two viral genomes are capable of infecting the same host cell to produce virus progeny with genes identical to the parent virus. Though there is evidence of recombination with the COVID-19 virus as stated by TheScientist, Eric Topol via a tweet called Deltacron a red herring.
Time will tell if the Deltacron is a new variant or not. The World Health Organization is yet to designate it as one. The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is a team that observes the evolution of the virus and advises the WHO on such matters. They are also responsible for placing variants according to already defined classification. To that end, this group has not designated it and so has WHO not designated it. WHO is the only agency that can affirm the Deltacron as a variant or not.
So far, there are no recorded cases of the Deltacron in Nigeria.
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