This new variant was first detected in India and has since spread to 10 other countries. Although it does not yet have an official name, some members of the scientific community call this subvariant of the Omicron the BA 2.75 or centaurus. At the moment, there is not enough evidence to conclude whether the new strain has the capacity to aggravate Covid-19 infection, although it is already beginning to worry about its rapid transmission capacity.
The attention that the disease has gathered corresponds specifically to mutations in spike proteins, located in the membrane of viral units, specifically the G446S and R493Q that would allow the variant to evade several antibodies and therefore be more resistant to the immunity achieved so far in the population. This means that both vaccinated people and those who have already had the disease would be more likely to be infected.
However, concern arises mainly from the rapid expansion of Centaurus in India, where it represents 18 per cent of the samples currently analysed. This is also suspected by experts in Spain, with the rise in cases ranging from 15,000 to 9,000, down from 3,000 just a few months ago.
The alarms reached the UN where the head of the World Saud Organization in India, Soumya Swaminatahn, said through social networks that this subvariant did not yet have an official name. He also claimed that the variant originated in India and then spread to 10 other countries. He explained that this is a subvariant called “second generation” of Omicron and that it has a series of mutations that have to be analyzed. “It appears that the subvariant has some mutations in the spike protein receptor-binding domain. Obviously this is the key to the virus’s access to bind to human receptors,” Swaminatahn emphasized.
Shay Fleishon, from the Central Virology Laboratory of the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, described the new subariant as “alarming” and that, although it is not certain that it is the new dominant variant, it could imply a future trend. It also stresses that this is the first time that a variant of Omicron has spread to multiple regions.
From the Ministry of Health of New Zealand, where it was detected last Friday for the first time, it is stated that “it has some features that seem to improve its ability to evade immunity”, reminiscent of others such as BA.4 and BA.5. He also warns of its dangerousness: “there is some preliminary evidence abroad claiming that it may be more transmissible than BA.2”.