News and Commentary

‘Deltacron’? Or Is It Just Testing Cross-Contamination Of Two Variants?

'There is no such thing' as Deltacron, one researcher wrote
Digital generated image of different variants of COVID-19 cells against gray background. Omicron Civid variant concept.
Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

A researcher in Cyprus says he’s discovered a cross strain of the coronavirus that combines the Delta and Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. Other experts, however, think it’s just a case of cross-contamination.

Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus, has dubbed the new strain “Deltacron,” because of its omicron-like genetic signatures within the delta genomes, Bloomberg News reported on Saturday.

“So far, Kostrikis and his team have found 25 cases of the virus, according to the report. It’s still too early to tell whether there are more cases of the strain or what impacts it could have,” CNBC reported. “‘We will see in the future if this strain is more pathological or more contagious or if it will prevail’ against the two dominant strains, delta and omicron, Kostrikis said in an interview with Sigma TV Friday. He believes omicron will also overtake deltacron, he added,” the network reported.

But other experts question the findings. “Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease expert at the World Health Organization, argued that Deltacron is ‘not real’ and likely due to lab contamination,” the New York Post reported.

“Okay people let’s make this a teachable moment, there is no such thing as #Deltacron,” the infectious diseases physician wrote on Twitter.  “#Omicron and #Delta did NOT form a super variant. This is likely sequencing artifact (lab contamination of Omicron fragments in a Delta specimen).”

She added: “Let’s not merge of (sic) names of infectious diseases and leave it to celebrity couples.”

The Omicron variant now accounts for nearly every new case of the virus blanketing the U.S., according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The new strain represented 95.4% of sequenced COVID-19 cases during the week ending on New Year’s Day, while the once-dominant Delta variant made up just only 4.6% of sequenced cases, the CDC said.

Omicron took over in just a matter of weeks. At the beginning of December, the variant accounted for less than 1% of sequenced cases, with Delta making up 99% of them. By the week ending on Christmas Day, the CDC estimated the variant to be 58.6% of all new cases.

While data are still being studied for the fast-moving variant, some researchers say Omicron taking over could be good news.

Scientists at the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban recently conducted a small study that found people infected with Omicron — and especially those who have been fully vaccinated — developed a higher immunity to Delta.

“The research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, involved 15 vaccinated and unvaccinated Omicron patients in South Africa, according to Bloomberg News, which noted that two were excluded because they didn’t detectably neutralize Omicron,” the New York Post reported. “The authors, led by Alex Sigal and Khadija Khan, found that while the neutralization of Omicron increased 14-fold over 14 days after the enrollment, there also was a 4.4-fold increase in neutralization of the Delta variant.”

“The increase in Delta variant neutralization in individuals infected with Omicron may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals,” the authors said, adding that the findings are “consistent with Omicron displacing the Delta variant, since it can elicit immunity which neutralizes making re-infection with Delta less likely.”

If Omicron can displace Delta to become the main variant, that could be big news because Omicron, while more contagious, seems far less likely to land sufferers in the hospital.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to

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