September 28, 2022

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A new corona variant “Centaurus” is on the rise in India

Threatening global dominance?
The “Centarus” variant is on the rise in India

By Kai Stoppel

So far, Sars-CoV-2 has surprised people with its versatility. In India, the success of Omicron’s new subvariant emerges: BA.2.75 dominates the infection process. The number of cases is also increasing. But what does that mean for the rest of the world?

A new omicron sub-variant of Sars-CoV-2 is increasing in India. It bears the designation BA.2.75, but is unofficially known as “Centarus” (Centaur). More recently, two-thirds of new coronavirus cases in the subcontinent were BA.2.75, Virologist Shahid Jameel said. Meanwhile, the new variant has been discovered in more than 20 countries worldwide.

As early as July, researchers were already talking about the emergence of a new subspecies in India and warned of a possible rise to global dominance. However, in the following weeks, the feared strong growth outside India did not materialize. However, in the subcontinent, BA.2.75 now dominates. While the number of new infections recorded is increasing, the increase in hospital stays and deaths remains low.

The BA.2.75 appears to have a “rather substantial” transfer advantage over the BA.5 in India, it concluded. Tom WenzelersAn evolutionary biologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium modeled the rise of centaurs, according to the journal Nature. “It will definitely trigger a wave of infections,” he said.

Why benefit in India?

But why the Centaur variant has been so successful in India remains a mystery. Previous studies have not been able to identify any major difference between the BA.2.75 and BA.5 omicron variants that dominate the rest of the world. Both have the ability to evade immunity against previous variants acquired through infection or vaccination – which explains their prevalence in countries with high vaccination or recovery rates. But otherwise?

Virologist Trevor Bedford The University of Washington even recently stated that BA.2.75 has some startup issues compared to other subtypes. He wrote that their infection rate, expressed in R value, was lower in the United States from the start than that of the BA.5 variant. Twitter. BA.2.75 “would probably trigger a smaller epidemic than what we experienced with BA.5 in the United States,” Bedford said. However, the potential seasonal effect has not yet been taken into account.

But why PA.2.75 is gaining full dominance in India? A mystery from the point of view of some researchers, there are only guesses so far. A note: India’s situation is different from the rest of the world. Because the country has not seen a pronounced wave before with the subline BA.5. The fact that BA.2.75 is now ahead of it could be due to the massive delta wave in India in 2021. Because PA.2.75 wins according to one Preprint The Chinese researchers were better than BA.5 at evading the immune response of those already infected with Delta—a clear competitive advantage.

Another subgenre in the game

However, outside India, this advantage of the Centaurus variant over the BA.5 may not be as big. “We’re getting to the point where these variants compete with each other and are almost equal,” says virologist Jameel. “I think people who get PA5 don’t have infections like PA2.75 and vice versa.”

BA.2.75 has not yet taken place in Germany. In Germany, “From the week of 25/2022, a total of five gene sequences of this subline have been identified in the sample,” wrote the Robert Koch Institute in its most recent article. Weekly report. The developmental advantage of BA.2.75 compared to the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 variants in Germany is currently unknown.

Virologist Wenzelers believes that BA.2.75 could “beat” the earlier types BA.4 and BA.5 in Europe, he pointed out. Twitter wrote But this can be difficult with another omicron subtype: BA.46. It will provide “some competition” to the BA.2.75 in Europe, the Middle East and North America. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach shared Wenzelers’ tweet with the comment: “Unfortunately, the corona epidemic is not over yet.”

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