Virologists have expressed concern about another highly contagious disease Omicron A variant that arrived in the UK.
The BA.2.75 variant, nicknamed the Centaur, is quickly gaining ground in India after it was first spotted there in May.
The new variant is believed to be spreading faster than its Omicron cousins BA.5 and BA.2 variants, and has now been detected in around 10 other countries, including the UK, US, Australia, Germany and Canada.
It remains unclear whether it can cause more serious disease than other Omicron variants, but scientists say it can overcome immunity from vaccines and previous infection.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) designated BA.2.75 as a “variant under monitoring” on July 7, meaning there are indications that it may be more contagious.
The concern of experts is caused by the large number of mutations that BA.2.75 contains compared to its predecessors.
Some of the mutations are in areas that bind to the spike protein and can allow the virus to bind to cells more efficiently, said Matthew Biniker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Another concern is that the genetic tweaks could make it easier for the virus to evade antibodies — protective proteins the body makes in response to a vaccine or an early variant infection.
But experts say vaccines and boosters are still the best defense against severe Covid.
It may take several weeks to know whether the latest Omicron mutant could affect the trajectory of the pandemic.
Shishi Luo, head of infectious diseases for Helix, a company that provides viral sequence information to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said BA.2.75 is another reminder. coronavirus Constantly evolving – and expanding.
“We want to go back to pre-pandemic life, but we still have to be careful,” he said.
We must accept that we now live with a higher level of risk than before.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that Covid remains a global emergency, almost two and a half years after it was first declared.
The UN agency’s emergency committee, made up of independent experts, said in a statement that the rise in cases, viral evolution and pressure on health services in a number of countries meant the situation remained urgent.
The number of new coronavirus cases reported worldwide has increased for the fifth week in a row, while the death toll remains relatively stable, the WHO reported on Thursday.
In the UN health agency’s weekly review of the Covid pandemic, the World Health Organization said 5.7 million new infections were confirmed last week, an increase of 6 percent. There were 9,800 deaths, roughly the same as the previous week.
Earlier this week, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic still qualifies as a global emergency and he was “concerned” by recent spikes.
“The virus is running wild and countries are not effectively managing the burden of the disease,” Dr Tedros said.
“New waves of the virus make it clear once again that Covid is nowhere near over.”
In the past two weeks, Covid cases reported to the World Health Organization have increased by 30 percent, largely due to Omicron’s highly infectious relatives, BA.4 and BA.5.
Centaurus Covid variant: what is the fast-spreading new strain?
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