Washington: Three years into the pandemic, the coronavirus continues to impress virus experts with its swift evolution. A young version, known as XBB, 1.5, has quickly been spreading in the US over the past few weeks. As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that it made up 72 percent of new cases in the Northeast and 27.6 percent of cases across the country.
The new subvariant, first sampled in autumn in New York state, has a potent array of mutations that appear to help it evade immune defenses and improve its ability to invade cells. “It is the most transmissible variant that has been detected yet,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the covid technical lead at the WHO, said on Wednesday.
xbb. 1.5 remains rare in much of the world. But Tom Wenseleers, an evolutionary biologist at KU Leuven in Belgium, expects it to spread quickly and globally. “We’ll have another infection wave, most likely,” he said. Advisors at WHO are assessing the risk of XBB. 1. 5 poses. Jacob Lemieux, an infectious disease doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the surge in cases would not match the first omicron The spike Americans experienced a year ago. “Is it a Category 5 hurricane?” he said. “No. Still, he warned XBB. 1.5 could worsen what is already shaping up to be a rough Covid winter as people gather indoors and don’t get boosters.
Dr Ashish Jha, the White House Covid response coordinator, said the Biden administration was monitoring the emergence of XBB. 1.5 and urging people to take advantage of existing countermeasures. Preliminary studies suggest vaccines should provide decent protection against XBB. One thing experts are confident about is that XBB. 1. 5 is not the last chapter in the coronavirus’s evolution.