New covert coronavirus strain spreads rapidly, surprising scientists and Wall Street analysts, but experts say there is reason for optimism

XBB is a new version of Omicron that evades conventional therapies and immunity. It is spreading rapidly in Singapore, and observers of the virus are concerned it could spread in the United States. BQ.1.1 is also appearing. Experts say we need to prepare for more COVID-19 infections this winter. Loading Something is loading. Thanks for subscribing! Access your favorite topics from a personalized feed on the go. As Halloween approaches, the murmur of another ongoing “nightmare” COVID strain is terrifying journalists and Wall Street analysts alike. The new strain is called XBB and is already triggering new infections and hospitalizations in some South Asian countries, including India and Singapore. A senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, an infectious disease expert Dr. Celine Gounder said that XBB is just one of “a growing number of immune-evasive omicron variants worldwide.” However, market forecasters at Morgan Stanley said in a note on Thursday that “of the new strains, XBB has the most important immune evasion properties.” Given that we’ve now seen almost three years of the COVID strain and another Omicrons almost a year before the advent of XBB, how worried should we be about this new version of the virus? Experts say we should expect a lot. More infections this fall and winter (including those from vaccinations, boost Americans). However, there are a few simple things you can do to prepare yourself to fight XBB and other evasive strains of COVID-19. What is XBB? XBB is a recombinant variant. That is, it is a combination of two different BA.2 Omicron sub-variants (specifically BA.2.10.1 + BA.2.75). Like other Omicrons we’ve seen before, XBB “is a way to avoid vaccines and the way you gain immunity from previous infections through changes in the spike protein,” UC Berkeley infectious disease expert John Swartzberg told the San Francisco Chronicle. It remains to be seen whether it will actually dominate the US COVID infection landscape this winter, or if it will be an option for one of the broad buffets of the Omicron sub-variant, a virus watcher compared to other Omicrons, a BA.5 sub-variant already on the rise in Europe. BQ.1.1 may be of greater interest to Americans than XBB German computer biologist Professor Moritz Gerstung recently tweeted that he could face “tense competition” between BQ.1.1 and XBB in the coming months. Both have a slight growth advantage over BA.5, the currently dominant version of COVID in the U.S. Why is everyone so excited about XBB World in the Data/Johns Hopkins University CSSE COVID-19 Data In Singapore, reinfection and reinfection by XBB Hospitalizations are both increasing, however local trends suggest that this version of the virus may also be somewhat milder than BA.5 % Lower risk of hospitalization Both XBB and BQ.1.1 monoclonal therapy used in patients with COVID-19 Being resistant to antibodies, Gounder said whatever happens next, “is very important for people at highest risk, including those over 50, and those with compromised immunity should get vaccinated immediately if they haven’t already been vaccinated this fall.” The new bivalent booster shot should go against XBBRemember. This is still Omicron, and the new boosts from Pfizer and Moderna target the XBB-related BA.4 and BA.5. “It means you have to protect yourself from serious illness, hospitalization and death,” Gounder said. XBB or other avoidance is possible. Regardless of one new strain, the coming winter “but we expect a lot of groundbreaking infections despite vaccination,” she added. Fewer than 15 million Americans have received the updated boosters this fall, according to CDC data. This is less than 5% of the country, so there is room for improvement. Gounder said he knew Americans were tired of mitigation measures. This winter, she said, “a high-quality mask will be important to reducing transmission, especially in indoor public places,” she said.
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