Meet Centaurus, the new “undercover Omikron”. It has just been discovered in the United States and can escape immunity more than any other strain of COVID

Meet Centaurus, the new "undercover Omikron".  It has just been discovered in the United States and can escape immunity more than any other strain of COVID
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A new Omicron subvariant on the World Health Organization’s radar — which some experts say is the most immune evasive yet — has been identified in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Luck Thursday.

A CDC spokesperson said two cases of BA.2.75, called Centaurus, have been detected in the United States, the first of which was identified on June 14.

The CDC does not publicly report variants that appear until they account for 1% of cases. Thus, the current status of BA.2.75 in the agency is reported data tracker Under BA.2 cases, which accounted for less than 3% of cases reported in the U.S. last week, according to data released Tuesday.

The Centaurus recently rose to prominence in India, competing with the BA.5 Omicron sub-variant that has taken the world by storm. WHO officials said at a press conference on Wednesday that they have tracked down the ultra-new subvariant and released some information about it through this medium. Twitter Tuesday.

BA.2.75 has been reported in “about 10 other countries” and has not been declared a variant of concern, Dr. WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said this in a tweet on Tuesday. Transmissibility, severity and potential for immune evasion are currently unknown, he added.

But some experts are raising potential red flags. Dr. Eric TopolMutations in the new subvariant, BA.5 and BA.4, “could make immune evasion worse than what we’re seeing right now,” he said Monday, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research and founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. of these are subvariants known to evade immunity from both vaccination and prior infection.

BA.2.75 was first detected in India in early June. In addition to the usual Omicron mutations, it has nine additional mutations, none of which are individually relevant. “But seeing them all together is another matter,” Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London’s Department of Infectious Diseases, tweeted recently.

Its “apparent rapid growth and wide geographic spread” is a concern, he added.

Apart from India, the virus has also been detected in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Great Britain. Tuesday’s statement By the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, citing Ulrich Elling, a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Austria.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, informed about this. Lucke On Thursday, it is unclear whether Centaurus can “really rise” in front of BA.5 and relative BA.4.

Centaurus “may spread for a while until it moves to BA.5 and can handle infecting people,” Adalja said. “At this point, I don’t know if BA.2.75 will be anything other than a regional problem that ultimately falls on BA.5.”

The ultra-new variant may also feature another “stealth Omicron” spinoff, BA.2.12.1, as it will be released over BA.2 in May, just as BA.2.12.1 did in the US for a while became dominant. The BA.4 and BA.5 remained dominant until they demoted it in late June — until the next more transferable variant came along, he said.

As for whether Centaur would cause more severe disease, such variants “wouldn’t be something pushed by evolution,” he said, adding that those with more severe disease are usually at home or in the hospital, too sick to go out and spread. .virus.

BA.5 does now dominant in the United States. The former heavy hitter, BA.2, is now a shadow of its former self.

“Omicron subvariant BA.5 is the worst version of the virus we’ve seen,” Topol he wrote last week, the subvariant was on its way to becoming dominant in the U.S. “It goes to the next level to escape the already widespread immunity and, as a function of that, increases its transmissibility.”

A recent study in South Africa found that individuals previously infected with Omicron but not vaccinated experienced an approximately eightfold reduction in neutralizing antibodies when exposed to BA.4 and BA.5. Those vaccinated and previously infected with Omicron saw a three-fold milder reduction.

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