A NEW strain of the Covid virus that combines the Delta and Omicron variants has been found, scientists have claimed.
The discovery was made by a research team led by Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus.
A test being carried out on in Cyprus, where the new variant was foundCredit: Alamy
The team have identified 25 such cases and data shows the relative frequency of the combined infection is higher among patients hospitalised due to Covid, Bloomberg reports.
The variant was called Deltacron due to the identification of omicron-like genetic signatures within the delta genomes, Kostrikis explained.
“There are currently omicron and delta co-infections and we found this strain that is a combination of these two,” Kostrikis said in an interview with Sigma TV Friday.
Kostrikis, the head of the university’s Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology said “we will see in the future if this strain is more pathological or more contagious or if it will prevail”.
But his personal view is that this strain will also be displaced by the highly contagious omicron variant.
The researchers sent their findings this week to GISAID, an international database that tracks viruses.
The discovery of the new variant comes as omicron continues its rapid spread across the globe, causing a surge in Covid cases.
Back in December, a top vaccine boss warned there is a very real risk of getting a “dual infection” from both Omicron and Delta.
Dr Paul Burton, chief medical officer for Moderna, said: “In the near future these two viruses are going to coexists.”
He made the warning as he spoke to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.
“Omicron is going to infect people with a very strong background of Delta.
“I think Omicron poses a real threat – the doubling time at three days is far faster than we’ve seen.
“People can harbor both viruses, and that could be possible here. It certainly could be [much worse].
“It give an opportunity for the two viruses could share genes and swap genes over.”
It’s not clear if this would make any infection worse but could certainly cause potential opportunities for each variant to develop further, Dr Burton warned.
Although it is rare, this has happened before in the pandemic.
A 90-year-old woman in Belgium caught both Alpha and Beta variants at the same time.
She had not been vaccinated and doctors suspected she had contracted the dual viruses from two different people, before she died.
Covid variants have previously been referred to by their country of origin, whether it’s the Indian variant, the Kent strain or the South African variant.
But some variants have now been renamed with experts referring to them by their Greek names.