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‘Deltacron’ variant is likely the result of a lab error, experts say

Experts say an alleged hybrid coronavirus mutation dubbed “Deltacron” reportedly discovered in a Cyprus lab is most likely the result of lab contamination, not a new worrying variant.

Cypriot media reported the discovery Saturday, describing it as having “the genetic background of the Delta variant along with some of the mutations of Omicron.”

While it is possible for coronaviruses to genetically combine, it is rare, and scientists analyzing the discovery of so-called “Deltacron” say it is unlikely.

“The Cypriot ‘Deltacron’ sequences reported by several large media outlets look to be quite clearly contamination,” Tom Peacock, a virologist with the infectious diseases department at Imperial College London, tweets over the weekend.

Jeffrey Barrett, the head of the COVID-19 Genomics Initiative at Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute, says the alleged mutations are located on a part of the genome that is vulnerable to error in certain sequencing procedures.

“This is almost certainly not a biological recombinant of the Delta and Omicron lineages,” he says.

Scientists are eager to battle a deluge of disinformation about COVID-19, much of it circulating online.

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