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COVID-19: New Deltacron Variant Discovered in Cyprus

PCR testing. Credit: Herusutimbul/Wikimedia Commons Herusutimbul – Own work
CC BY-SA 4.0

A new COVID-19 variant dubbed Deltacron has been discovered in Cyprus, with health authorities announcing a press conference for the coming week.

The discovery was made by Dr Leontios Kostrikis, who leads the team of scientists working at the University of Cyprus biotechnology and molecular virology lab.

Speaking to local media, Kostrikis explained that the new variant, Deltacron, shares the genetic background of the Delta variant along with some of the mutations of Omicron.

“We have found a significant number of mutations only previously found in Omicron cases, which is different from other variants as it has 30 mutations,” Dr Kostrikis told Cyprus Mail. “Ten of these were identified in these samples taken in Cyprus”.

The variant was identified in 25 samples taken in Cyprus, 11 of which came from people  hospitalized for COVID-19 and 14 from the general population.

Correlation between Deltacron and hospitalizations

Dr Kostrikis said that, “The frequency of the mutations was higher among those in hospital which could mean there is a correlation between Deltacron and hospitalizations”.

As the specific variant has not been identified anywhere else in the world, he said, this  discovery could be of global interest, the Cyprus Mail report says.

DR Kostrikis said that the sequences of the 25 samples have been submitted to the GISAID database, to be made available to the global scientific community.

That being said, he concluded, it is still too early to predict whether Deltacron could overpower Delta and Omicron.

Cypriot health minister congratulates Dr Kostrikis

“The groundbreaking research and findings of Dr Kostrikis’ team make us proud of our scientists as this research puts Cyprus on the international map when it comes to health matters,” Cyprus’ Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said.

The health minister said more details on the Deltacron varianwill be given in a press conference in the coming week.

Cyprus boosts COVID-19 measures

As the Omicron variant continues to spread in record numbers in Cyprus and the discovery of the Deltacron variant, authorities take additional measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, according to Cyprus Mail.

A total of 73 free rapid test sites for eligible groups will operate nationwide on Sunday, the health ministry announced.

Eligible for a free rapid test are minors who do not have consent from their parents/guardians to be vaccinated, and anyone over 18 who can show medical proof (a certificate) exempting them from vaccination, such as pregnant women.

Eligible for free testing are people fully vaccinated against the virus who did not receive a booster seven months later, and those in between the first and second dose of the vaccine, only for the period in between the two doses.

Until January 15, inbound travelers are entitled to a free rapid test within 72 hours of their arrival.


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