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Coronavirus: New variant discovered in Cyprus (updated)

Leontios Kostrikis

We are proud of our scientists, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said on Saturday after the discovery of a new variant by Cypriot scientists was announced.

Dr Leontios Kostrikis, who leads the team of scientists working at the University of Cyprus’ biotechnology and molecular virology lab, said a new coronavirus variant has been identified in the community.

Speaking to local media, Kostrikis explained that the new variant, which has been dubbed Deltacron, shares the genetic background of the Delta variant along with some of the mutations of Omicron.

“We have found a significant number of mutations only previously found in Omicron cases, which is different from other variants as it has 30 mutations,” he said. “Ten of these were identified in these samples taken in Cyprus”.

He added that the variant was identified in 25 samples taken in Cyprus, 11 of which came from people hospitalised for coronavirus and 14 from the general population.

“The frequency of the mutations was higher among those in hospital which could mean there is a correlation between Deltacron and hospitalisations”.

It is quite possible that the specific variant has not been identified anywhere else in the world, he said, so this discovery could be of global interest.

“The groundbreaking research and findings of Dr Kostrikis’ team make us proud of our scientists as this research puts Cyprus on the international map when it comes to health matters,” Hadjipantelas said.

Kostrikis said that the sequences of the 25 samples have been submitted to the GISAID database, which will make them available to the global scientific community.

That being said, he concluded, it is still too early to predict whether Deltacron could overpower Delta and Omicron.

The health minister said more details will be given in a press conference in the coming week.

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