By Lisa Kim

Scientists in Cyprus have found 25 cases of a strain of the coronavirus that they say combines elements of the delta and omicron variants, dubbing it “deltacron,” with a high proportion of the variant found in patients hospitalized for Covid-19, a professor involved in the identification of the new strain said Saturday. 

KEY FACTS

The discovery was made by Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, and his team, Bloomberg reported.

The new strain has “omicron-like genetic signatures within the delta genomes,” according to Bloomberg.

Deltacron cases were found in 25 samples taken in Cyprus, of which 11 were from patients hospitalized with Covid and 14 from the general public, according to Cyprus Mail, a local English daily.

Analysis shows deltacron is more often found in patients hospitalized with Covid-19 than those with Covid-19 who are not hospitalized, Kostrikis said.

It is “quite possible” that the new strain has not been found elsewhere, and the sequences of the cases have been sent to GISAID, a Germany-based international database that tracks developments in the coronavirus, the Cyprus Mail reported.

KEY BACKGROUND

In December 2021, Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, told the U.K.’s House of Commons that the co-existence of delta and omicron increased the chances of a new variant as a result of them trading genes, the Daily Mail reported. Such recombination is common in coronaviruses, according to the New York Times. Several studies have suggested recombination could cause the virus to change in “dangerous ways,” but could help researchers develop drugs to treat the virus, the Times reported.

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