The World Health Organization (WHO) representative reported that Omicron type XBB.1.5, which has spread rapidly in recent weeks and whose share has increased exponentially in the USA, for example, may cause a new wave of covid-19 cases. told reporters.
The World Health Organization’s chief epidemiologist, Maria Van Kerkhove, said that XBB.1.5 is the most infectious sub-variant known to date of omicron, the most contagious variant of the covid-19 virus that is currently dominant worldwide.
In the text, we summarize what the scientific community knows so far about this variant.
How is the new version different from the previous ones?
Experts fear that XBB.1.5 is even better at avoiding people’s vaccines and antibodies from previous exposure to covid-19. This means that people exposed to this variant are more likely to get sick.
XBB.1.5 spreads rapidly due to mutations that allow it to attach to cells and reproduce easily.
“Our concern is how portable it is,” Van Kerkhove said about the newly discovered variant at Wednesday’s briefing. “We are concerned about how rapidly the XBB.1.5 variant is displacing other subvariables, particularly in some countries in Europe and the northeast of the United States.”
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According to Van Kerkhove, health authorities have already confirmed the presence of this strain in 29 countries, but it can occur naturally in many other countries.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported that people are infected with this variant in some European countries such as the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Austria, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Iceland. , Belgium, Portugal and Ireland.
How severe can XBB.1.5 mutation disease be?
Health officials are not yet sure whether the emergence of the new variant will mean more people go to the hospital or die. Information on the new form of the virus is still limited and WHO does not yet know whether XBB.1.5 is more serious than other circulating sub-variants.
But the organization says the severity of the disease is unlikely to change significantly with the new mutation, but increased transmissibility is always a cause for concern.
1.5 mutation should be of greater concern than other variants emerging and disappearing in the ever-changing mutation landscape of covid-19, said Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group.
Can we expect a new wave of cases?
“We expect more waves of infections worldwide, but this may not turn into more waves of death as our countermeasures continue to work,” said Van Kerkhove. He added that WHO cannot currently attribute the increase in hospitalizations in the northeastern United States to this variable, given that many other respiratory viruses are also circulating.
According to the ECDC, this variant is likely to have an increasing effect on the number of covid-19 cases in the EU. However, this will not happen in the next month as the variant is currently only available in very low numbers in the EU.
According to Reuters, virologists agree that the emergence of a new subvariable does not mean a new crisis. New variants are expected as the virus continues to spread. The XBB.1.5 virus is likely to spread globally, but it is not yet clear whether it will cause its own wave of infections worldwide.
The XBB.1.5 variant is very closely related to the omicron version of XBB, which according to the World Health Organization has already been detected in at least 70 countries and is causing an increase in infections in parts of Asia, including India and Singapore. In October.
What are the symptoms of XBB.1.5 mutation?
Dr. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said at a press conference that although the XBB.1.5 mutation is new, its symptoms have not changed significantly.
1. More immune loophole? Probably yes. More from other Omicron variants
2. Is it inherently more contagious? Maybe. It binds more tightly to the human ACE receptor. It can affect the contagion
3. Is it more dangerous: We don’t know
Of course, the big question is…..
— Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH (@AshishKJha46) January 4, 2023
“In the case of this mutation, the symptoms are similar to a cold, for example runny nose, sore throat or cough. In less common cases, patients show flu-like symptoms and actually feel very sick,” explains Arwady.
Is the new variant behind the increase in infections in the US?
In the last week of last year, the CDC reported that the newly discovered virus strain was responsible for 40.5% of infections across the US; this was roughly double the situation in the previous seven-day period. Ashish Jha, the White House’s covid-19 response coordinator, confirmed this on Twitter on Wednesday.
The newly discovered omicron type XBB.1.5 raises concerns about another possible wave of covid-19 cases in the US. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it does not cause more serious illness than other types of omycrons.
Jha warned that Americans’ immunity to XBB.1.5 is “probably not great” if the previous infection occurred before July or if they had not received the improved vaccine, which has only been available since September.
The coordinator therefore advised Americans to get revaccinated, get tested before visiting large gatherings, and wear masks or respirators in crowded confined spaces. The antiviral pills Paxlovid and Molnupiravir “should work normally from what we know,” he said.
How will WHO proceed now?
Van Kerkhove said that WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on the Evolution of Viruses is working on an analysis of the severity of the new strain, which will be published in the coming days.
Professor Tulio de Oliveira, a South African scientist who is a member of the group, said the situation was “complicated”, especially given the global context of the increase in cases after China abandoned its zero-tolerance policy in December.
Source: Seznam Zpravy
I am Joel Fitzgerald, a news website author for The News Dept. I have worked in the media and journalism industry for over 10 years and specialize in world news. My articles have been featured in prominent publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, where I am an expert contributor on global affairs.