The latest variant of Covid-19 – called ‘Centaurus’ – has arrived in the UK as cases continue to skyrocket.
Of course, it’s too early to tell that just yet, but it has been marked out as a ‘variant under monitoring’ by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
The BA.2.75 variant has been growing fast in India since first detection in May, and now it has made the journey to several other countries including the UK, USA, Australia, Germany, and Canada.
It is thought that the new variant is more easily transmissible than Omicron sister variants BA.5 and BA.2.
So far, around 10 other countries have reported cases of Centaurus.
It’s not clear whether the variant poses any more risk of serious disease, but scientists are wary that it might be able to evade vaccine protection and immunity from recent infection.
However, it’s worth mentioning that vaccines and booster shots are still your best form of protection, if you’ve not already had everything on offer.
The concern stems from the large number of mutations that BA.2.75 has compared with the other Omicron variants.
The problem is that some of those mutations are linked to the spike protein which allows the virus to more effectively bind onto cells within the body.
Further genetic mutations could allow the variant to sneak by antibodies that are supposed to protect the body against infection.
It’ll be a few weeks yet before we know enough about the variant, but it could steer the course of the pandemic over the coming period.
This variant – as much as anything – represents a necessary reminder that the virus is still out there, and the pandemic is not over just yet.
Shishi Luo, head of infectious diseases at Helix, told The Independent: “We would like to return to pre-pandemic life, but we still need to be careful,
“We need to accept that we’re now living with a higher level of risk than we used to.”
According to the World Health Organisation – who are worth listening to on this front – Covid-19 is still a global emergency.
Cases are rising, the virus is constantly changing, and the health services of the world are under continuous strain.
Whilst cases have continued to rise for five weeks now, the number of overall deaths has remained stable, the WHO reported on Thursday.
Still, we should be cautious where we can, wearing masks in busy places and washing hands frequently.