You'd be forgiven for thinking that Deltacron is the name of the next Marvel villain – Deltacron vs Thor does have quite the ring to it, don't you think? But, as it turns out, it's actually yet another pandemic-related phrase to get our heads around, and you might have already heard of it if you've been on Twitter at all recently, where Deltacron has been trending.
But, with so much chatter on socials, it's easy to misinterpret what Deltacron actually is, whether we should be worried about it and, more importantly, is it even real?
What is Deltacron?
As the name suggests, Deltacron is a combination of the strains Delta and Omicron. Scientists in Cyprus claim to have discovered the new strain, which they have dubbed Deltacron because it shares combined similarities of the two strains.
Leondios Kostrikis, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Cyprus and Head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, first brought the world's attention to the potential new strain after seeing some patients become 'co-infected' with Delta and Omicron.
"We will see in the future if this strain is more pathological or more contagious or if it will prevail," he said on Sigma TV on Friday (7 January)
But, is Deltacron real?
Understandably, news of the potential strain spread pretty quickly, causing quite the stir on social media which scientists have been keen to shut down. In fact, many have claimed that Deltacron simply isn't real, and is instead a case of laboratory contamination.
"The Cypriot 'Deltacron' sequences reported by several large media outlets look to be quite clearly contamination," tweeted Virologist Tom Peacock, before laying down some pretty scientific stuff.
Small update: the Cypriot 'Deltacron' sequences reported by several large media outlets look to be quite clearly contamination - they do not cluster on a phylogenetic tree and have a whole Artic primer sequencing amplicon of Omicron in an otherwise Delta backbone.
— Tom Peacock (@PeacockFlu) January 8, 2022
Explaining the Deltacron situ, GP and BBC Breakfast doctor Rachel Ward told Cosmopolitan UK: "Further mutation in the COVID-19 virus is to be expected and there may be variants which have features of other strains."
Ward continued, "It is unclear at this stage as to whether the Deltacron claim is correct or whether this is due to a lab contamination. As we do not know if this is a new variant at this stage, there is very limited information about it."
How can we protect ourselves from Deltacron?
While scientists figure out what's actually going on with Deltacron, it's important that we all continue to keep up with the necessary safety precautions – that includes wearing a mask, working from home where possible, social distancing when out in public and getting our booster vaccinations.
"The best thing we can all do to protect ourselves and those around us from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated," reminds Dr Ward. "This is three doses for adults and two doses for 12 to 16-year-olds. Please book your first, second or booster vaccine today."
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