Covid-19 Variant XBB.1.5 Emerges as a New Threat
The emergence of a new Covid-19 variant called XBB.1.5 has experts worried about the potential for a significant upsurge in cases globally. The first case of this new strain was found in India, and it has already caused concern due to its ability to evade immune systems and its high level of contagion.
Here are five things you should know about the XBB.1.5 variant.
- XBB.1.5 is More Contagious and Immune Evasive than Other Variants
- XBB.1.5 is a Recombinant Strain with Genetic Material from Two Variants
- XBB.1.5 May Have Originated in India or New York
- XBB.1.5 is Responsible for a High Percentage of Covid-19 Cases in the US
- Covid Booster Shots May Not Offer Ideal Protection Against
XBB.1.5 is More Contagious and Immune Evasive than Other Variants
One of the most concerning aspects of the XBB.1.5 variant is its ability to spread more quickly and evade immune systems more effectively than other variants. In fact, data shows that it is 108% more contagious than the BQ1 variant, and it continues to improve, currently standing at 120% quicker. This makes it more dangerous than the Omicron BF variant, which is already known to be highly contagious.
XBB.1.5 is a Recombinant Strain with Genetic Material from Two Variants
The XBB.1.5 variant is a recombinant strain, meaning it has genetic material from two different coronavirus variants. Specifically, it descends from the XBB subvariant, which was produced by the recombination of two sub-variants that evolved from the BA.2 omicron subvariant. This means that it has genetic material from two variants that descended from the BA.2 subvariant.
XBB.1.5 May Have Originated in India or New York
The omicron sub-variants XBB and XBB.1 were originally discovered in India, leading some researchers to suggest that XBB.1.5 may have mutated in that country. However, Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research Institute, has suggested that it may have originated in New York instead. The exact origins of this new variant are still being investigated.
XBB.1.5 is Responsible for a High Percentage of Covid-19 Cases in the US
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highly contagious XBB.1.5 subvariant is now responsible for over 40% of Covid-19 cases in the United States. In the past week alone, the number of cases caused by this subvariant has doubled. This highlights the need for caution and continued efforts to slow the spread of this highly contagious variant.
Covid Booster Shots May Not Offer Ideal Protection Against
Infectious diseases specialist Anthony Fauci has stated that while Covid booster shots, which target the original variant of the coronavirus as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, may offer some protection against the XBB subvariant, it would not be ideal. This underscores the importance of continuing to monitor the spread of the XBB.1.5 variant and working to develop new vaccines and treatments that can effectively combat it.
Overall, the emergence of the XBB.1.5 variant highlights the need for continued vigilance in the fight against Covid-19. This highly contagious and immune evasive strain has the potential to trigger a significant upsurge in cases globally, and it is important for individuals to take steps to protect themselves and slow the spread of this new threat.
Category: International / World Current Affairs