Omicron: GP explains ‘overwhelming’ science behind vaccines
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Covid restrictions might be long over but the disease has continued to infect people around the world. In the first week of January this year, England, Scotland and Wales recorded more than 30,000 new cases (data is not available for Northern Ireland). Throughout the pandemic new strains of the disease have emerged, with one currently on track to become dominant across the UK.
The Orthrus, or CH.1.1, Covid strain is a sub-lineage of Omicron that was first identified in November last year.
As of January it is thought to account for around 23 percent of all Covid cases in England.
Alongside the Kraken – also known as XBB.1.5 – strain, experts have warned Orthrus is primed to “take over” from the current dominant variant, BQ.1.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) explained: “The analysis shows that coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the UK are primarily made up of BQ.1 and its sublineages, consistent with the UKHSA risk assessment published in October.
“Two variants, CH.1.1 and XBB.1.5, appear to have a growth advantage in the UK.
“Both are variants in the Omicron family.
“XBB.1.5 remains at very low prevalence in the UK, so estimates of growth are highly uncertain.
“The risk assessment conducted by UKHSA together with academic partners found that CH.1.1 and XBB.1.5 are currently the variants most likely to take over from BQ.1 as the next dominant variant in the UK, unless further novel variants arise.”
Symptoms of Orthrus
Both Orthrus and Kraken have been reported to share the same symptoms as Omicron.
The ZOE Health Study lists the most common symptoms of Omicron as:
- Runny nose
- Fatigue (mild or severe)
- Sore throat.
Vaccine alliance Gavi reported that symptoms of Kraken have been more “cold-like than flu-like”.
This was especially true among those who have either been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 before, it said.
Currently the most common symptoms of Covid in general are noted as:
- A sore throat
- A runny nose
- A blocked nose
- A cough without phlegm
- A headache
- A cough with phlegm
- A hoarse voice
- Muscle aches and pains
- An altered sense of smell.
Where is Orthrus?
Research group, the Sanger Institute, has created genomic mapping that highlights where the Orthrus strain is prevalent in England.
These locations include Adur, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Breckland, Central Bedfordshire, Crawley, Enfield, Havering, Northumberland, North West Leicestershire, Oxford, Reading, Sevenoaks, Wakefield and Woking.
Worst hit is Blackburn with Darwen, which has a lower estimate for Orthrus cases of 43 percent and an upper estimate of 100 percent.
In an update, Doctor Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA, said: “Through our genomic surveillance, we continue to see evolution of variants in the Omicron family.
“Vaccination remains our best defence against future COVID-19 waves, so it is still as important as ever that people come take up all the doses for which they are eligible as soon as possible.”
Although there are no legal restrictions, the NHS still advises staying home and avoiding contact with others for five days if you test positive for Covid.
It also recommends avoiding contact with vulnerable people for 10 days after testing positive.
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