Covid Centaurus: Is there a new Covid-19 variant, symptoms of new variant and is it more contagious than Covid-19?
A NEW highly contagious sub-variant of Omicron has been detected in the UK as Covid cases continue to rise.
The BA.2.75 variant, which has been nicknamed ‘Centaurus’, is closely related to the BA.5 and BA.2 strains and is thought to spread even more quickly.
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Here’s everything you need to know about the new Covid-19 strain:
What is Covid Centaurus?
Covid Centaurus is a new sub-variant of variant Omicron and it is thought to be highly contagious.
Known scientifically as BA.2.75, it was first discovered in India but has since been detected in around 10 other countries, including the US, Germany, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) designated BA.2.75 as a ‘variant under monitoring’ on July 7.
This suggests that it may be more transmissible than previous Covid strains, although data is still being compiled.
What have researchers said?
Scientists have said that it is possible that the variant may be capable of evading immunity built up from vaccines and previous infection.
Researchers have warned that the variant has a large number of mutations compared to its Omicron predecessors, with some of the mutations in areas that relate to the spike protein, which could allow the virus to bind to cells more efficiently.
The researchers have also said that such genetic mutations may make it easier for the virus to get around antibodies made in response to vaccines or past infection.
However, experts say vaccines and booster jabs are still the best defence against Covid-19 and it will take several weeks to get a better understanding of the severity of the new variant.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of the new variant are thought to be similar to previous Omicron strains, although the Centaurus is still being studied by experts.
The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants are currently still dominant in the UK and people are being urged to be aware of the key symptoms to help prevent further spread.
The top 20 most reported Covid symptoms to look for right now, according to data from the ZOE Covid Study app, are:
-Cough no phlegm
-Cough with phlegm
-Swollen neck glands
-Chest pain tightness
-Chills or shivers
-Shortness of breath
-Loss of smell.
Professor Tim Spector, the lead scientist behind the research, said: ‘If you’re not testing, you should assume it’s Covid at the moment because it’s far more prevalent than anything else out there.
‘It’s much more likely to be Covid than a summer cold.’
If you feel unwell or experience any Covid-19 symptoms, it is advised that you stay at home and avoid contact with others where possible.
How many Covid cases are there in the UK?
In the week up to June 30, a total of 2.7 million people in the UK were estimated to have had Coronavirus.
This marks the highest estimate since late April but is still some way below the record high of 4.9 million at the peak of the BA.2 wave.
There is currently no concrete data on new variant Centaurus as yet, but it is being studied by scientific teams and experts across the world.