Covid – 8th wave: what is this new XBB variant, resembling SARS, which worries scientists?

Of new variantsa more virulent flu strainthe return of the cold and therefore of social interactions inside which promotes the spread of virus : part of the scientific community predicts a winter rough question health, or even a double epidemic.

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And recently, the forecasts have taken a slightly more alarmist turn. Indeed, while of new variants emerge, one of them particularly attracts attention. Her name : XBB. He is “descended from a combination of two sub-lineages of Omicron” according to Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist and director of the Institute for Global Health at the Faculty of Medicine in Geneva, interviewed by our colleagues from La Dépêche.

The fastest

Discovered in Singapore, it would have “a substantial growth advantage over BA.5”, according to scientist Eric Topol, specialist in Covid. So much so that his immune escape would approach the level of SARS-CoV-1responsible for the epidemic of SARS in 2003, according to Yunlong Cao of Peking University. The variant “would be to date one of the known variants of SARS-CoV-2 that best manages to escape acquired immunity (following contamination, editor’s note) or vaccine”, adds Antoine Flahault. For Tom Peacock (Imperial College London), the XBB variant “grows faster than any other recombinant currently”.

However, there is no indication that the variant XBB causes a more severe form of the disease. And scientists remain confident about the protection conferred by the vaccine or even a previous infection in the face of death or hospitalization.

The start of Singapore’s XBB variant wave
Notable how this variant left BA.2.3.20 in the dust, a variant with substantial growth advantage over BA.5; variant graph by @JosetteSchoenma
XBB and BQ.1.1 are 2 of the most important variants on watch right now

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) October 8, 2022

And then an interesting BA.2.75* x BJ.1 (which is itself a BA.2 sublineage – BA. recombinant – XBB. Fairly standard looking simple breakpoint recombinant (in spike) but growing faster than any other recombinant currently…

— Tom Peacock (@PeacockFlu) October 2, 2022

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