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What is Deltacron and should you be concerned?  Chicago’s Best Doctor Explains – NBC Chicago

With reports surfacing of a so-called “deltacron” COVID mutation that combines both the delta and omicron variants, one wonders if it is real and what it could mean.

Chicago’s top doctor was asked this question Tuesday at a COVID-related press conference, where she said variants are expected to continue to develop during the pandemic, but “deltacron” is “not a formal word “.

“It’s a word people use. I think it reflects a fear that we’re not done with the variants, and I see no reason to think we’re done with the variants, just to be. very clear about it, ”Arwady said. “The way people use this is this concern [that] already omicron has almost all of the characteristics of delta and it has most of the same genetic changes that delta had. But it’s this idea of ​​bringing together some of what was worse with delta with some of what was worse with omicron. And, you know, there have been individual cases where we’ve seen additional genetic patterns. ”

Bloomberg News reported on Saturday that a researcher in Cyprus had discovered a strain of the coronavirus that combines the delta and omicron variant.

Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus, called the strain “deltacron”, due to its omicron-like genetic signatures in delta genomes, Bloomberg said.

So far, Kostrikis and his team have found 25 cases of the virus, according to the report. It is still too early to say if there are more cases of the strain or what impacts it could have.

But some experts expressed doubts about the results.

A World Health Organization official tweeted Sunday that “deltacron” was “not real” and “is likely due to a sequencing artifact.”

Dr Krutika Kuppalli wrote that there had probably been “laboratory contamination of Omicron fragments in a Delta sample”.

“Let’s not merge the names of infectious diseases and leave that to celebrity couples,” she said in a subsequent tweet.

CNBC reported that another senior scientist, Dr. Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, an infectious disease expert at Emory University in Atlanta, advised a cautious approach, tweeting Sunday that “On the story of #deltacron, just Because I have been asked about this repeatedly in the last 24 hours, please interpret with caution The information currently available indicates contamination of a sample as opposed to true recombination of the #delta and # variants. omicron. “

She also noted, however, that a possible mixing of genetic material belonging to the delta and omicron variants is possible.

“Recombination can occur in coronaviruses,” she wrote. “The enzyme that replicates their genome tends to pull out the strand of RNA it copies, and then join up where it left off. #delta and #omicron both in circulation, double infection with both variants increases this concern. “

The scientist who reported the discovery told Bloomberg on Sunday that the results were not the result of a “technical error.”

Arwady said additional variants are reported frequently, but stressed that there is a process to categorize them. Potential cases of “deltacron” are being watched, but she said it was not yet of concern and had not been identified as a variant of interest or concern.

The Omicron and Delta variants are currently classified as variants of concern.

“Until it’s kind of a variant of interest, I’m not that interested, frankly, and until it’s a variant of concern, I’m not that worried,” Arwady said. “Please know that here in Chicago we have used federal government funds to significantly strengthen our ability to monitor variants here.… We see anything that interests us or concerns us here in Chicago or n Anywhere in the world, we’ll absolutely let you know. But really, right now, my concern is omicron. ”

NBC Chicago

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