The new Covid variant that is sweeping through Spain has unofficially been given the delightful moniker of ‘Hellhound’ by social media users.

It is certainly easier to remember than its official designation – technically referring to two separate Omicron subvariants – as BQ.1 and BQ.1.1. 

Spanish health minister Carolina Darias said that while ‘Hellhound’ currently only accounts for 2.7% of Covid cases in Spain, they are expected to account for most Covid cases in the country in just a few weeks.

“It is estimated that they could be the dominant ones from the end of this month or the beginning of December,” she said.

“They are growing at a rapid pace in several European countries.” 

‘Hellhound’ already accounts for 25% of cases in France, 10% of new infections in Belgium and has ticked up to 5% in Italy.

Covid hospitalisations on the rise in Spain’s Malaga
Covid is BACK, this new strain with the terrifying name of ‘Hellhound’. Cordon Press image

The European Centre of Disease Control (ECDC) issued a report on October 20 claiming that the two subvariants will account for more than 50% of cases in Europe at the onset of winter due to its resistance to the existing vaccines.

The subvariants garnered their terrifying name from German Twitter users who named it ‘Cerberus’, based on expert forecasts of how it would spread across the continent.

They likened it to the many-headed guard dog of hell who stops the denizens of the underworld from escaping.

Symptoms for this demonic strain include: a sore throat, a cough, general malaise, aphonia, diarrhoea, and a runny nose.

Preliminary data suggests that ‘Hellhound’ is 10% more contagious than previous incarnations of the virus, according to scientist Cornelius Römer, from the University of Basel.

Coupled with the fact that autumn and winter is the time of highest spread among viruses, alarm is rising that we may be facing yet another Covid wave.

There is no suggestion, however, that it is more severe.

“Hound of hell is certainly not a suitable name,” said Carsten Watzl, Secretary General of the German Society for Immunology.


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