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Why is there no reason to panic about the new “COVID” variant of XBB.1.5?!

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Fears of a deadly new wave of Covid-19 are rising after infections from a new, highly contagious variant doubled in a week, but experts say there is no reason to panic.

XBB.1.5 — another offshoot of the Omicron strain — accounted for 40% of positive cases in America in the last week of 2022, up from 22% the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). .

It has been called the most antibody-resistant strain after acquiring mutations that make it less recognizable to previously immunized or infected immune systems, leading some experts to fear it could spark a new outbreak.

But others have said they expect Americans to have “significant” protection from the new option. They pointed to XBB.1.5 hotspots where hospitalizations and deaths have not yet increased.

XBB.1.5 has acquired mutations, including F486P, in the spike protein that help it bypass antibodies that fight the new coronavirus in response to a previous vaccination or infection. Another change, S486P, is thought to improve its ability to bind to cells. The subvariant is currently present in every region of the US, with most cases in regions such as New York, which tend to be the first to register new variants due to being popular travel destinations.

In addition, the strain is a mutant version of Omicron XBB, first discovered in August in India. XBB, which is a fusion of two other sub-options, BJ.1 and BA.2.75, quadrupled the number of cases in just one month in some countries.

Dr. Isaac Bogosh, an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, tried to allay concerns about the strain.

“We cannot ignore the fact that recovery from infection along with vaccination provides some effective protection at the community level,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we will likely still see a similar increase in hospitalizations and deaths from XBB, but perhaps to a lesser extent compared to previous waves due to community-based hybrid immunity developed during the Omicron era,” he added. .

Unfortunately, countries like China that are under-vaccinated, vulnerable and have relatively few people who have recovered from previous infections will face much more serious manifestations of the COVID outbreak, namely overburdened health systems and high death rates.

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia in England, said: “I doubt XBB.1.5 will cause major disruption to the health service, but we need to wait a couple of weeks to see what happens. I’ve read that there is no indication that this option is more dangerous and more likely to result in hospitalization or killing people.”

Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, predicted there would be no “significant change” in the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients with XBB.1.5.

She added: “XBB.1.5 is not destined to magically lead to our extinction. This is another evolutionary advance that viruses are making that we can counter.”

Other scientists have also sought to allay concerns about XBB.1.5.

“Antibody studies show that XBB is significantly less neutralizing,” tweeted Dr. Marion Koopmans, a virologist at the European Erasmus University Medical Center, “but this may not lead to a higher complication rate as elevated antibody levels are just “part of immune repertoire. At the moment, there is evidence that the prevention of serious diseases through vaccination persists.”

Experts also pointed to the experience of Singapore, which experienced a surge in CVV infections last year. Experts attributed this in part to the excellent vaccination rates in the country.

Laboratory studies show that XBB is more capable of evading antibodies from previous Covid infections or vaccines than other strains.

But this does not take into account other parts of the immune system, such as T cells, which also provide protection.

Previously, Singaporean scientists calculated that XBB is 30 percent lighter than the Omicron BA.5 strain.

However, some scientists have raised concerns about this subspecies.

“Ironically, the worst type the world is facing right now is XBB,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told Reuters.

Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, told MailOnline that the emergence of this strain is a “wake-up call” and could exacerbate hospitalizations.

He said: “The XBB.1.5 variant is highly contagious and has resulted in an increase in hospital admissions in New York, especially among the elderly. Decreased immunity, increased internal turmoil due to cold weather, and a lack of other mitigation measures such as wearing masks for individuals are also contributing to the rise in infections in the US.”

Source: Daily Mail

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