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'Deltacron likely from lab contamination’: Experts on new COVID-19 variant

'Deltacron likely from lab contamination’: Experts on new COVID-19 variant

Virologists and infectious diseases experts are eager to battle disinformation on COVID-19, a large part of which is circulating on social media.

Cypriot Health Minister Michalis Hadjipandelas had hailed the scientists for discovering the new variant while adding there is nothing to worry about at the moment Cypriot Health Minister Michalis Hadjipandelas had hailed the scientists for discovering the new variant while adding there is nothing to worry about at the moment

Amid concerns about the ‘Deltacron’ variant discovered in Cyprus, experts have said that this coronavirus mutation is most likely the result of a lab contamination and not any variant of concern. Media outlets in Cyprus reported the discovery of the Deltacron on Saturday and described it as having a “genetic background of the Delta variant along with some of the mutations of Omicron.”
 
Cypriot Health Minister Michalis Hadjipandelas had hailed the scientists for discovering the new variant while adding there is nothing to worry about at the moment. As per scientists analysing the discovery of ‘Deltacron’, the possibility of coronaviruses to genetically combine is rare and an unlikely one at that. 
 
Virologists and infectious diseases experts are eager to battle disinformation on COVID-19, a large part of which is circulating on social media. Experts like WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Genomics Initiative head at Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute Jeffrey Barrett, Imperial College London virologist Tom Peacock, American cardiologist Eric Topol and virologist and professor at Institute of Medical Sciences at Banaras Hindu University Sunit K Singh have allayed any fears around another variant of coronavirus after Delta and Omicron.
 
“Jumping in late here: Let’s not use words like deltacron, flurona or flurone. Please. These words imply combination of viruses/variants and this is not happening. “Deltacron” is likely contamination during sequencing, SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve,” tweeted WHO’s van Kerkhove. She also urged people to get vaccinated against both flu and COVID-19, wear face masks, ensure proper ventilation at home, avoid crowds and observe social distancing.

Barrett said these so-called mutations are located on a part of the genome vulnerable to error in certain sequencing procedures. “This is almost certainly not a biological recombinant of the Delta and Omicron lineages,” he was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
 
While Topol called the Deltacron a ‘scariant’ and one less thing to worry about, Peacock said that these sequences widely look like contamination. Peacock said the Cypriot Deltacron reports are contamination as these don’t “cluster on a phylogenetic tree and have a whole Artic primer sequencing amplicon of Omicron in an otherwise Delta backbone.”
 
Singh, on the other hand, said that it is the nature of an RNA virus like the SARS-CoV-2 which is of a respiratory nature to mutate. He added, “While we may find many mutations, its recombinant forms need to be processed. In public health, not every mutation is alarming.”
 
(With agency inputs)
 
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