Why Nigeria should be worried about ‘Deltacron’, other variants –Physician

Why Nigeria should be worried about 'Deltacron', other variants –Physician

Lara Adejoro<

A Professor of Public Health and former National Chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, Prof. Tanimola Akande, has warned that if preventive measures are not out in place, Deltacron and other variants will be discovered in the country.

Prof. Akande also said preventive measures at the points of entry have not proven to be effective in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Recall that a scientist in Cyprus discovered Deltacron, which combines the Delta and Omicron strains.

As reported by Bloomberg last Sunday, the new variant named ‘Deltacron’ was identified by a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, Leondios Kostrikis.

Speaking in a media interview Kostrikis said, “There are currently Omicron and Delta co-infections and we found this strain that is a combination of these two,” adding that the new strain was named ‘Deltacron’ due to the identification of Omicron-like genetic signatures within its Delta genomes

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Bloomberg reported that Kostrikis and his team have identified 25 such cases, noting that the statistical analysis shows that the relative frequency of the combined infection is higher among patients hospitalised due to COVID-19 as compared to non-hospitalised patients. The sequences of the 25 Deltacron cases were sent to GISAID, the international database that tracks changes in the virus, on January 7.  

Experts, however, said on Monday that an alleged hybrid coronavirus mutation dubbed “Deltacron” reportedly discovered in a Cyprus laboratory is most likely the result of lab contamination and not a new worrying variant.

Cypriot media reported the discovery Saturday, describing it as having “the genetic background of the Delta variant along with some of the mutations of Omicron”.

While it is possible for coronaviruses to genetically combine, it is rare, and scientists analysing the discovery of so-called “Deltacron” say it is unlikely. 

“The Cypriot ‘Deltacron’ sequences reported by several large media outlets look to be quite clearly contamination,” Tom Peacock, a virologist with the infectious diseases department at Imperial College London, tweeted over the weekend. 

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Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, Akande said “Nigeria needs to be worried since we know all variants eventually find their ways onto many countries as people travel globally. Preventive measures at the points of entry have not proven to be 100 percent in preventing spread to Nigeria. 

“Not much is known currently on this new variant.”

He added that Nigeria needs to scale up vaccination to protect its citizens.  

“The usual measures of travel guidelines need to be strictly adhered to. This is in addition to intensified testing and surveillance. 

“Nigeria needs to scale up vaccination to protect its citizens. Other non-pharmaceutical measures should be adhered to and the should take measures to ensure compliance,” the expert submitted.

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