On video: China opened its borders to the world (Reuters)
Another new sub-variation of the Covid-19 virus is spreading around the world.
It is called CH.1.1, and is a descendant of BA.2.75.
Some call the same sub-variant "Orthrus".
Orthras (named after the two-headed dog in Greek mythology that guarded Greon's cattle and was killed by Hercules).
Not much is known about the relatively new strain, whose levels have been increasing worldwide since November.
Like other variants of the virus it has the potential to be more contagious, evade immunity from vaccination and infection, and cause more serious illnesses.
So far, this version, officially designated as CH 1.1, appears to have a mutation similar to that of the deadly delta corona strain, but more resistant to current vaccines.
CH.1.1 was first detected in India on July 8, 2022 and its sub-lineages accounted for over 6 percent of the global sequence count in the previous month.
It is found in 67 countries or regions as of January 30, 2023, mainly affecting countries such as the United Kingdom (about a quarter of cases), Hong Kong, New Zealand (about a third of cases), Denmark, New Guinea (a fifth of cases) and Singapore.
Currently, CH.1.1 is ranked fifth in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) US Covid-19 Variation Tracking Chart. Last week, XBB.1.1.5 still accounted for 66.4% of all genetically engineered Covid-19 samples During this time period, in second place was the BQ.1.1 with 19.9%. The BQ.1 finished third with 7.3% while the XBB came in fourth with 2.2%. The CH.1 recorded only 1.6% .
GIF of the corona virus (Photo: Giphy, KAUST; Ivan Viola)
Although CH.1.1 has a greater ability to evade immunity, a significant population worldwide has high levels of neutralizing antibodies, which provide protection against it and its ilk.
Experts estimate that this strain will not cause a major outbreak at this stage.
Those who have never been infected with COVID-19 and those in vulnerable groups (elderly, with pre-existing medical conditions, and unvaccinated) should be more cautious.
And in the midst of all this, it is important to mention that in the case of XBB.1.5, which initially appeared to be a very serious challenge for the world's population, and indeed spread at a very large rate in the northeastern United States, it eventually stopped in the rest of the country. It is difficult to say what the future of the corona epidemic is now and in the future - and therefore it is also difficult to know which of the varieties will spread, if at all and where in the world.