BusinessOmicron BQ variants dominant, XBB circulating at low level

Omicron BQ variants dominant, XBB circulating at low level


An individual receives a coronavirus illness (COVID-19) take a look at because the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to unfold in Manhattan, New York Metropolis, U.S., December 22, 2021.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

The omicron BQ coronavirus subvariants have risen to dominance within the U.S. as individuals collect and journey for the Thanksgiving vacation, placing individuals with compromised immune techniques at elevated danger.

BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are inflicting 57% of recent infections within the U.S., in keeping with knowledge revealed by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention on Friday. The omicron BA.5 subvariant, as soon as dominant, now makes up solely a fifth of recent Covid circumstances.

The BQ subvariants are extra immune evasive and sure immune to key antibody drugs, akin to Evusheld and bebtelovimab, utilized by individuals with compromised immune techniques, in keeping with the Nationwide Institutes of Well being. This contains organ transplant and most cancers chemotherapy sufferers.

There are at present no replacements for these medication. President Joe Biden, in an October speech, informed individuals with compromised immune techniques that they need to seek the advice of with their physicians and take further precautions this winter.

“New variants could make some present protections ineffective for the immunocompromised. Sadly, this implies you might be at a particular danger this winter,” Biden mentioned.

The XBB subvariant can be circulating at a low stage proper now, inflicting about 3% of recent infections. Chief White Home medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, in a briefing Tuesday, mentioned XBB is much more immune evasive than the BQ subvariants.

Fauci, director of the Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Ailments, mentioned the brand new boosters, which had been designed in opposition to omicron BA.5, in all probability aren’t as efficient in opposition to an infection and gentle sickness from XBB. However the pictures ought to shield in opposition to extreme illness, he mentioned. Singapore noticed a spike in circumstances from XBB, however there wasn’t a significant surge in hospitalizations, he added.

Moderna and Pfizer mentioned final week that their boosters induce an immune response in opposition to BQ.1.1, which is a descendent of the BA.5 subvariant.

Fauci, within the press briefing, mentioned public well being officers consider there may be sufficient immunity from vaccination, boosting and an infection to stop a repeat of the unprecedented Covid surge that occurred final winter when omicron first arrived.


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