A new Omicron subvariant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is being dubbed “Centaurus,” or the new “stealth omicron.” The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Fortune on Thursday that this could be the “most immune-evasive” variant yet.
It’s never-ending with the fear and panic over people getting colds. There have been a whopping two cases of BA.2.75, dubbed “Centaurus,” detected in the U.S., with the first being identified on June 14, a spokesperson for the CDC said. But that won’t stop the media or ruling class from pushing the fear onto the public.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) July 5, 2022
BA.2.75 has been reported in “about 10 other countries” and has not been declared a variant of concern, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said in a Tuesday tweet. Transmissibility, severity, and potential for immune evasion are currently unknown, she added.
This new subvariant was first detected in India, and it’s tough to say if it’ll be the next one the rulers will use to overly panic the public or not:
The basis for concern about the Omicron BA.2.75 variant.
8 mutations beyond BA.5, many in the N-terminal domain, which could make immune escape worse than what we’re seeing now. Competing w/ BA.5 in India. Excellent thread by @EllingUlrich 👇 https://t.co/Ko5AYxEonv
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) July 4, 2022
Along with the usual Omicron mutations, it has as many as nine additional changes, none of which are concerning individually. “But all appearing together at once is another matter,” Tom Peacock, a virologist at the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College in London, said recently in a tweet. Its “apparent rapid growth and wide geographical spread” are concerning, he added.
Surveillence minded folks – worth keeping a close eye on BA.2.75 – lots of spike mutations, probable second generation variant, apparent rapid growth and wide geographical spread…https://t.co/sY0edKoQHX
— Tom Peacock (@PeacockFlu) June 30, 2022
As to whether Centaurus might cause more severe disease, such variants are “not going to be something evolution pushes for,” he said, adding that those with more severe disease are typically at home or in a hospital, too sick to go out and spread the virus.
Oddly enough, the worst of the virus is still circulating, but the entire planet was locked down for nothing more than a common cold. “The Omicron subvariant BA.5 is the worst version of the virus that we’ve seen,” Topol wrote last week as the subvariant was well on its way to becoming dominant in the U.S. “It takes immune escape, already extensive, to the next level, and, as a function of that, enhanced transmissibility,” well beyond what has been seen before.
The media and rulers do not seem to be in full-blown fear-mongering mode just yet over this one, but anytime they announce a new variant or subvariant, we should watch to see what is coming next.