Saturday, February 4, 2023

What is known about XBB.1.5, the coronavirus subvariant spreading rapidly in the US

Coronavirus And Vaccines
caption,   The coronavirus pandemic was declared in March 2020.

In December 2021, after nearly two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything seemed to be returning to a certain normality thanks to the progress of vaccines administered worldwide.

However, the appearance of the Omicron variant once again raised alarm bells due to its high transmissibility and since then, it has become the dominant variant responsible for infection in most countries.

Most recently, a subvariant of Omicron, called XBB.1.5 and detected in the United States last October, proved to be the “most infectious” recorded in the past two years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Is. , ,

And it has been detected in at least 30 countries around the world.

Although no cases of this subvariant have been reported in Latin America, its infectious potential is such that it already represents 40% of COVID-19 cases in the Americas.

There has also been a significant increase in cases in the United Kingdom, many of them related to this subvariant as well.

Here we tell you what is known about XBB.1.5 so far.

The variant of the coronavirus known as Omicron is currently dominant.

What is XBB.1.5?

It is another subvariant of Omicron, which is currently the most prevalent coronavirus variant on the planet.

Ohmicroheyn was the version that followed alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.

And it was one that became dominant since it emerged in late 2021. Since then, a series of subtypes of Omicron have been produced, each more infectious than the last.

WHO and both U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC) state that the symptoms caused by this subvariant are very similar to those of its predecessors.

However, experts also clarify that it is too early to confirm these details. Most infected people experience cold-like symptoms.

Is XBB.1.5 more dangerous than previous coronavirus variants?

XBB.1.5 is an evolution of the subvariant XBB, which was discovered in the UK in September 2022. However, it is not yet listed by health officials as a “variant of concern”.

Now, a mutation occurred in XBB that helped the virus evade the body’s immune defenses, But this same property also limited its ability to infect human cells.

However, according to Professor Wendy Barclay of Imperial College London, XBB.1.5 has a mutation called F486P, which restores its ability to bypass the body’s defenses, allowing it to infect human cells.

There has been an alarming increase in cases related to Kovid-19 in America.

This is the reason for its high transmission rate.

Barclay explains that these evolutionary changes are a kind of “stepping stones” that viruses are taking to find new ways to circumvent the body’s defense mechanisms.

WHO scientists confirmed on Wednesday that XBB.1.5 has a “developmental advantage” compared to other subvariants seen so far.

However, he clarified that there are no indications that it is more dangerous than other Omicron variants.

The WHO also indicated that it would, pending further laboratory studies and data provided by hospitals, learn more about the subvariant’s impact on patients.

Where is it spreading?

As we mentioned earlier, it is estimated that close to 40% of COVID-19 cases in the US are caused by XBB.1.5, making it the dominant form in the North American country.

And it should be borne in mind that in early December they represented only 4% of cases.

In addition, there has been an increase in the number of hospitalizations of people affected by COVID-19 in recent weeks, especially in the northern region of the country.

in the United Kingdom, something like this would happen, Although the numbers certainly do not allow to indicate anything.

Data provided by the Sanger Institute in Cambridge, suggest that one in 25 cases of covid-19 is related to XBB.1.5.

But the study was based on only nine samples, so we’ll have to wait for a better diagnosis of the situation. The British Health Protection Agency will publish a report on the variant next week.

Professor Barclay said he expected more hospitalizations if the variant spreads, “as we hope it will”.

The WHO said the variant has been detected in at least 30 countries, including several in Southeast Asia and Africa.

Vaccines against COVID-19 provide good protection against serious illness for most people.

Are scientists worried about XBB.1.5?

Barclay said she is not particularly concerned about the general population, but she does worry about its impact on vulnerable people, including the immunocompromised, who benefit less from vaccines.

For Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia, so far no evidence has been seen that XBB.1.5 is more toxic, meaning it is no more likely to “put you in hospital or kill you”. The current Omicron variant.

He added: “It’s ironic that everyone is focused on possible variants coming out of China, but XBB.1.5 came out of the US.”

David Hayman, a scientist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, acknowledged that much remains to be learned about this latter version.

But he said it was unlikely to be a major problem in countries with high levels of vaccination and past infection.

His concern focuses on countries with low levels of vaccination, such as China, where prolonged lockdowns have resulted in low vaccine acceptance and low natural immunity.

“China needs to share clinical information on infected people to see how the variant behaves in non-immune populations,” Heyman said.

Nation World News Desk
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