what do we know about these new Omicron sub-variants?

XBB and BQ.1.1, two Omicron sub-variants under close scrutiny since their appearance. And for good reason, they are the most resistant to antibodies known to date!

The active circulation of Omicron has given rise to an impressive number of subvariants of the latter, all of which, according to a preprint, have the capacity to supplant it. ” Such rapid and simultaneous emergence of multiple variants with enormous growth advantages is unprecedented. write Yunlong Cao and colleagues, scientists at Beijing University and authors of the preprint BioRvix. Two of them are the center of attention: BQ.1.1 and XBB.

XBB and BQ.1.1, champion variants of immune evasion

The genetic sequence of BQ.1.1 was first shared on August 26, 2022. This Omicron subvariant, whose full name is B.1.1.529., was taken from a traveler at a Japanese airport arriving from Egypt. In all likelihood, BQ.1.1 would have emerged in Nigeria. Since then, he has toured the world. In France, 91 sequences corresponding to BQ.1.1 were detected, i.e. a prevalence of 0.073%. XBB is the result of the recombination of BJ.1 and BA.2.75, two sub-variants of Omicron. First identified on September 12, 2022 in Singapore, it has since been detected in Bangladesh and the United States, including New York State.

For the moment, only the prepublication BioRvix tells us about some of the capabilities of these two variants. Laboratory tests to estimate their ability to resist therapeutic antibodies indicate that both are resistant to most available drugs. The antibodies present in the plasma of people vaccinated with CoronaVac – the study being conducted in China, it is this vaccine formula that was preferred – do not do any better. The results indicate that XBB, in particular, shows “ the most extreme immune evasion abilities “, comparable to that observed for SARS-CoV-1. Scientists have not replicated these experiments with plasma from people vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, or…

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