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Coronavirus: Cyprus virologist ‘delighted’ to be proved right over Deltacron

Leondios Kostrikis, Professor of Molecular Biology at the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Cyprus (CNA)

Dr Leondios Kostrikis on Saturday said he was delighted scientists are confirming the existence of Deltacron after the British media reported the variant, previously dismissed as a lab error, has been detected in the UK.

The virologist, who leads the team at the University of Cyprus’ biotechnology and molecular virology lab, announced in January that his team had identified the recombinant – when two different variants, in this case Delta and Omicron merge together – in 25 samples taken from people who tested positive in Cyprus.

The scientific community was quick to dismiss the discovery, with many calling it a lab error or the result of contamination.

But according to the Telegraph, British health authorities confirmed last week they identified a case of the variant in a patient. Even so, the variant is not seen as a cause for concern as the exact number of infections is still unknown.

“At the moment I’m not overly worried,” Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline.

“If both Delta and Omicron are falling then, in theory, this should struggle to take off. It doesn’t fill me with dread.”

Deltacron was named by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in its weekly “variants in monitoring” list, which is below “variant of concern” and “variant under investigation”.

“I have no reason to question the validity of their scientific findings,” Kostrikis said of the new discovery, adding that he expects, “as they expect from us,” the publication of their reasoning “so we can study in detail all of the experiments.”

He added that he will speak in more detail after his team’s study is officially published in a peer reviewed scientific journal, which is expected before Easter.

“Those who are well-versed in virology know that recombinants are not unheard of,” Kostrikis said, adding that for example HIV has around 91 confirmed recombinants.

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