August 19, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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COVID-19: The “centaur” subvariant has been detected in several countries, including Canada

COVID-19: The "centaur" subvariant has been detected in several countries, including Canada

The first case of contamination with Omicron’s BA.2.75 subvariant, nicknamed “Centaur,” was found in the Netherlands in a sample dated June 26, the Netherlands Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) announced on Wednesday.

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The “BA.2.75 variant of the coronavirus”, which had already been detected in other places in India, Australia, Japan, Canada, the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, “has now also been identified in the Netherlands,” RIVM said in a statement.

“Little is known about BA.2.75,” the institute clarifies, but it also appears that “through certain small changes, SARS-CoV-2 can more easily evade built-in defenses against the coronavirus.”

World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said last week that BA.2.75 was first reported in India and later in a dozen other countries.

She pointed out that there were “still limited sequences” for analysis, but indicated that the subvariant contained some mutations on the receptor binding domain of the spike protein (…), a key element of the virus that binds to human receptors.

“It is still too early to know whether this sub-variant has additional immune evasion properties or is clinically more serious – we don’t know”, she stressed, confirming that the WHO is monitoring the situation.

The sample in question in the Netherlands comes from the province of Gelderland (North-West) and was taken on June 26, 2022, the RIVM said, which will see if a provenance search is possible and “follow the situation closely”.

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BA.2.75 was listed as a “variant under surveillance” by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on 7 July.

Virologist Tom Peacock at Imperial College London tweeted in late June that BA.2.75 was ‘watchable’ because it had ‘many edge mutations’, a ‘potential second-generation variant’, “obvious rapid growth” and “wide geographic spread”.