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New "Orthrus" COVID-19 Variant Will Likely Become Dominant In The UK

The variant has spread rapidly across the nation.


Jack Dunhill

Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer

clockJan 19 2023, 12:21 UTC
woman nurse giving a covid test to a patient

The variant seems to have a growth advantage. Image credit: Dragana Gordic/

The new COVID-19 variant CH.1.1, named Orthrus, may be running rampant across the UK, and could soon take over from the current most dominant variants, according to government data. Orthrus may be responsible for around 25 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the UK, but some regions may be seeing it in 100 percent of cases, states the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). 

The UK is monitoring both CH.1.1 and XBB.1.5, which are both Omicron subvariants, as they appear to have a growth advantage over previous variants. Currently, BQ.1 is dominant in the UK and remains the largest cause of COVID-19 infection, though that may soon change. XBB.1.5 remains at low prevalence. 


Orthrus first emerged in November and has rapidly spread to counties across the UK, becoming dominant in Northumberland, Oxford, and North West Leicestershire, among others. In Blackburn, the upper estimate places a chance of 100 percent of COVID-19 cases being a result of Orthrus. 

The UKHSA will continue to monitor variants using genomic mapping, in the hopes of anticipating potential variants of concern. 

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