The Cypriot scientist who found the new Coronavirus variant, dubbed Deltacron, stepped forward to defend himself and assert that his findings are accurate after reports of its emergence sparked a backlash over the weekend.
University of Cyprus professor Leondios Kostrikis said that Deltacron has genetic signatures similar to those of Omicron in the Delta genome.
According to Indepndent, there have been 25 such cases so far.
11 of these samples came from those who were hospitalized due to the virus, while the rest came from the general public, according to the Cyprus Mail.
Several experts dismissed the finding after it trended on social media, saying they believed it was a matter of laboratory contamination.
Dr. Kostrikis defended himself, saying that the cases he had identified “indicate an evolutionary pressure to an ancestral strain to acquire these mutations and not a result of a single recombination event”, Bloomberg reported.
Additionally, the Deltacron founder noted that infections caused by Deltacron were more frequent among Covid patients hospitalized than the native virus.
As such, he said, contamination cannot be a factor.
A number of these samples were sequenced in several countries, he said, adding that at least one sequence from Israel, deposited in a global database, exhibits the same genetic characteristics as Deltacron.
“These findings refute the undocumented statements that Deltacron is a result of a technical error,” he stated.
Nonetheless, Virologist Tom Peacock, of Imperial College London’s Department of Infectious Disease, Still alleged that the Deltacron variant was ‘clearly contamination’ after the findings were reported.
In addition, also among the list of experts suspecting contamination was Dr. Krutika Kuppalli of the World Health Organisation.
“Deltacron is not real and is likely due to sequencing artifact (lab contamination of Omicron sequence fragments in a Delta specimen),” she said on Twitter.
“Let’s not merge names of infectious diseases and leave it to celebrity couples.”