Omicron's BA.2.75 'Centaurus' subvariant is beating out BA.5 in India-and scientists say it 'may prevail' elsewhere


The only Omicron sub-variant with its own name may become the next globally dominant strain of COVID-19.

The so-called Centaurus strain, which is scientifically known as BA.2.75, has quickly become India's dominant strain of COVID-19 in recent weeks and now accounts for roughly two-thirds of India's new cases, according to Shahid Jameel, a virologist at the University of Oxford. A Twitter user named Xabier Ostale gave BA.2.75 the unofficial name Centaurus in July, saying he named the strain after the galaxy, and it has taken off among some experts and media outlets.

This week, Chinese researchers published a new pre-print study on the strain suggesting that Centaurus "may prevail" as the globally dominant strain of COVID-19 following the current BA.4 and BA.5 wave. Centaurus's "growth advantage over BA.5 in India has become clearer" since the researchers looked at data nearly one month ago, one of the study's authors Yunlong Richard Cao, an assistant professor of biochemistry and immunology at Peking University, wrote on Twitter.

Centaurus does not appear to be driving a surge in hospitalizations or deaths in India. India has reported 49 COVID-related deaths per day in the last week, the same daily rate as two weeks ago, according to the New York Times.

The Chinese researchers wrote it "remains unclear" why the strain appeared more infectious in India than other strains. But they suggested a key mutation related to the virus's ability to bind to human cells may explain why Centaurus has displaced other subvariants in the country. India suffered a deadly wave of Delta infections in the summer of 2021, and Cao believes that because BA.5 shares a specific mutation with Delta, people in India may be better protected against BA.5 than people elsewhere, giving Centaurus room to flourish.

Centaurus also does not appear to be taking off in other countries.

In the U.S., BA.5 cases makes up 87.1% of all COVID infections, while other Omicron sub-strains BA.4 and BA.4.6 account for the second and third most cases at 6.6% and 4.8%, respectively, according to recently published data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. BA.2.75, meanwhile, has not registered enough cases to be officially listed in the U.S.'s data.

Tom Wenseleers, an evolutionary biologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, told Nature that his research unearthed early evidence that Centaurus cases are ticking up in Australia, the U.K., the U.S., and Canada, which makes it possible that the strain could eventually displace BA.5.

Other experts are not too concerned about Centaurus' rise.

Jameel says Centaurus does not pose a big reinfection risk to people who caught BA.5. "I think people who have had BA.5 will not have a breakthrough infections with BA.2.75, and vice versa," he told Nature.

"I would put my money on BA.2.75 fizzling out without a major wave of infections," Ben Krishna, a postdoctoral researcher in virology at the University of Cambridge, recently wrote for the GAVI vaccine alliance. "Thanks to vaccination, if we did face a BA.2.75 wave, we wouldn't expect the level of deaths and hospitalizations seen earlier in the pandemic."

This story was originally featured on


More Related News

India's central bank raises a key rate to its highest level in three years

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is catching up with other global central banks in reining in inflation.

Leeds: Indian tech firm to create 1,000 jobs in city
Leeds: Indian tech firm to create 1,000 jobs in city

Global firm Mphasis already has a 500-strong workforce in Leeds, having set up offices last year.

Abortion: India Supreme Court says amended law to cover single women too
Abortion: India Supreme Court says amended law to cover single women too

India's Supreme Court says all women, including those not married, can get an abortion up to 24 weeks.

Inside a GOP Candidate
Inside a GOP Candidate's Tropical Island Tax Shelter

Photo Illustration by Erin O'Flynn/The Daily Beast/GettyPay Dirt is a weekly foray into the pigpen of political funding. Subscribe here to get it in your...

India's top court legalises abortion regardless of marital status
  • US
  • 2022-09-29 08:24:09Z

India's top court on Thursday upheld the right of a woman to an abortion up to 24 weeks into pregnancy regardless of marital status, a decision widely hailed...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Economy