Omicron sub-variants Orthrus, Kraken may soon become dominant Covid strains in UK

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Orthrus, a heavily mutated Omicron spinoff that causes Covid infection, now accounts for a fourth of all Covid infections in the United Kingdom. First detected in late 2021, the CH.1.1 variant is reportedly worrying the health professionals in the United Kingdom. A number of mutations allow it to bind to the cells along the respiratory tract more tightly, making it more infectious.

Surveillance data shows that the strain has now snowballed since it was first detected in November last year.

Data from the Sanger Institute, one of the UK’s largest surveillance sites tasked with analysing strains circulating in the United Kingdom, shows Orthrus, nicknamed after a mythical two-headed dog, accounted for 23.3 per cent of all Covid tests analysed in England on January 7.

Health chiefs of various bodies in the UK have warned that Orthrus or another Omicron sub-lineage nicknamed the ‘Kraken’ could soon become dominant. 

While Orthrus is behind more infections, experts have said Kraken appears to be growing faster and is said to be more transmissible and capable of evading the human immune system than other strains in circulation.

Orthrus has a mutation called P681R — which was also on the Delta variant (that caused the devastating second wave of Covid outbreak in India in 2021) — and is thought to make it better attack cells and cause more severe illness. Kraken has the mutation called F486P, which helps it to bypass Covid-fighting antibodies.

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