Fears over new Omicron strain dubbed 'Centaurus' as scientists warn it's 'super contagious' | The Sun

FEARS are growing over a new Omicron strain which could spread rapidly and evade vaccines.

BA.2.75 has gained ground in India, with a handful of cases also having been picked up in the US.

Medics have been looking into cases of the 'super contagious bug'.

Dubbed 'Centaurus', some fear it could cause more serious illness than the current Omicron strain.

It's important to note that Omicron is a milder illness than other strains such as Delta and Alpha.

Most people getting the illness will experience cold and flu like symptoms.

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Health chiefs still say that the best way to protect yourself and those around you is by getting vaccinated.

The mammoth roll-out across the UK has helped free the country from restrictions.

And while some experts are worried the new variant could get around immunity from vaccines and prior infection – they do heed caution.

Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said it's too early to draw too many conclusions.

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"But it does look like, especially in India, the rates of transmission are showing kind of that exponential increase," he told Medical Express.

Dr. Gagandeep Kang, who studies viruses at India's Christian Medical College in Vellore said we need to accept we are now living with a higher level of risk than we used to.

The main concern, experts say is that some of the mutations are in areas that relate to the spike protein – which is responsible for cell entry.

The experts say the new variant could allow the virus to bind onto cells more efficiently.

But it will take weeks to understand whether or not the strain will impact the spread of the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has started to track the variant to keep an eye on how it evolves.

Epidemiologist, Professor Catherine Bennett told Daily Mail Australia that this variant might have to compete with others.

"The more sub-variants we have, the greater the risk of re-infection. Everyone is game. If you recover from one variant but then come across a different one you could get it again.

'Each sub variant is a bit different and each one that comes along weakens our immunity."

The strain has been dubbed Centaurus across the medical community, and Ulrich Elling, expert in genetics and Covid-19testing and sequencing at the Austrian Academy of Sciences said: "While the distribution across Indian regions as well as internationally and the very rapid appearance makes it likely we are dealing with a variant spreading fast and spread widely already, the absolute data points are few."

It comes as a health minister in the UK this week warned that Covid restrictions could return with face masks and free lateral flow tests.

Lord Syed Kamall said the government is ready to bring Covid measures back to "protect the NHS" if necessary.

As it stands, cases are on the rise but the "link between infections and hospitalisations" has been broken, the junior health minister said.

But should cases rise to a point that the NHS is put under pressure and can't cope with the backlog of patients, measures could be reintroduced.

"If it gets to a point where it is affecting the backlog then clearly measures may well have to be introduced," Lord Kamall said.

Covid-curbing measures previously in place included mandatory face masks on public transport and free lateral flows.

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On Friday, Covid cases rose again for the fifth week in a row.

One in every 25 Brits is now infected with the bug, said the Office for National Statistics.

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