(NEXSTAR) – Scientists in Europe believe they have found a new strain of COVID-19 infection made up of both the delta and omicron variants.
Leondios Kostrikis, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, said the strain, dubbed “deltacron,” is a co-infection of the delta and omicron variants, Bloomberg reported Saturday.
Kostrikis describes deltacron as having delta’s genetic background with some of omicron’s mutations, CyprusMail reports. According to Kostrikis, 25 samples of deltacron have been found in Cyprus, 11 of which were from patients already hospitalized with COVID-19. Fourteen were from individuals among “the general population.”
These samples have been submitted to GISAID, an international database that tracks viruses and variant strains of COVID-19. GISAID is one of three databases the World Health Organization uses to identify and track COVID-19 variants.
As of Saturday, neither GISAID nor WHO has identified the deltacron strain as a variant.
Having two variants at the same time isn’t impossible, Dr. Jim Conway, medical director with the immunization program at UW Health in Wisconsin, recently told Nexstar. Because it is possible to have two viruses simultaneously – like ‘flurona,’ a co-infection of influenza and COVID-19 – Dr. Conway noted there is nothing indicating you can’t experience two variants at once.
Dr. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial Department of Infectious Disease in Britain, added there is a chance the discovery is a result of contamination in the lab where the virus samples were sequenced.
Omicron is currently the most prevalent variant in the U.S., making up more than 95% of the country’s cases of COVID-19, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.