9 Jan, 2022 10:10 PM3 minutes to read
January 9 2022
There have been 85 new Covid-19 community cases over the past two days. Video / NZ Herald
A scientist in Cyprus claims he has discovered a new Covid-19 variant that combines elements from both the Omicron and Delta strains.
Leonidos Kostrikis, who is a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and the head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, labelled the new strain Deltacron.
“There are currently Omicron and Delta co-infections and we found this strain that is a combination of these two,” Professor Kostrikis told reporters from Cyprus television network Sigma TV on Friday.
“We will see in the future if this strain is more pathological or more contagious or if it will prevail.”
Health workers in Lima, Peru, have been conducting a door-to-door vaccination campaign. Photo / APOther scientists have suggested the 25 infections discovered by Kostrikis are the result of laboratory contamination, but it is a claim he rejects.
Bloomberg reports that the samples were processed in more than one country and “at least one sequence from Israel deposited in a global database exhibits genetic characteristics of Deltacron”.
“These findings refute the undocumented statements that Deltacron is a result of a technical error,” Kostrikis said.
Cyprus Health Minister Michael Hadjipantela said that the new variant isn’t of concern, a statement echoed by Kostrikis, who said it would likely be swallowed up by Omicron.
Lots of reports of Omicron sequences carrying Delta-like mutations (eg P681R or L452R). Although a subset of these might end up being real, the vast majority will most likely turn out to be contamination or coinfection. No clear signals of anything real or nasty happening (yet).
— Tom Peacock (@PeacockFlu) December 21, 2021
It comes as cases of the highly transmissable variant continue to break records.
Mexico has reported more than 30,000 new coronavirus cases, setting a new 24-hour record and prompting some states to close schools, as experts warn the total case numbers are far higher than official statistics given the low testing rates.
In Peru, which has the world’s highest Covid-19 death rate, an all-time high 16,000 new infections were recorded in a 24-hour period.
Australia’s battle to contain Omicron has seen tens of thousands of daily cases in Victoria and NSW. On Sunday, Victoria recorded 44,155 and four deaths and NSW recorded 30,062 cases and 16 deaths.
The variant’s spread has also led to a rush on rapid antigen test kits and panic buying in supermarkets.
A scientist in Cyprus claims he has discovered a new Covid-19 variant that combines elements from both the Omicron and Delta strains. Image / APA World Health Organisation representative recently revealed exactly why Omicron spreads so quickly.
In a recent Facebook video post, WHO Covid-19 technical lead Dr Maria Van Kerkhove confirmed a staggering 10 million new cases have been reported in the past week alone.
“What we are seeing is a very sharp increase in case numbers. You will have noticed in the last World Health Organisation update, almost 10 million cases reported in the last seven days, and there are a number of reasons for this,” Van Kerkhove said.
“The first is the mutations that it has. The virus is able to adhere to human cells more easily, and it has mutations that allows it to do this.
“Second is that we have what is called immune escape, and that means that people can be reinfected.
“The other reason is that we are seeing the replication of Omicron in the upper respiratory tract, and that’s different from Delta and other variants, including the ancestral strain, which replicated in the lower respiratory tract, in the lungs.
“This combination of factors allows the virus to spread more easily.”