Covid – eighth wave: what is this new XBB variant, similar to SARS, that worries scientists?

Of new variantsa most virulent flu strainthe return of the cold and therefore of the social interactions inside it that favor the spread of virus : part of the scientific community predicts a winter rough health issue, or even a double epidemic.

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Covid and flu: towards a double epidemic this winter, the English give the alert

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

The fastest

Discovered in Singapore, 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 SARS in 2003, according to Yunlong Cao of Peking University. the variant “To date, it would be one of the known variants of SARS-CoV-2 that best manages to escape acquired immunity (after contamination, editor’s note) or the 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 XBB variant causes a more severe form of the disease. And scientists remain confident in the protection conferred by the vaccine or even a previous infection against death or hospitalization.

The beginning of the wave of XBB variants from Singapore
Remarkable how this variant left BA.2.3.20 in the dust, a variant with a substantial growth advantage over BA.5; variant graph by @JosetteSchoenma
XBB and BQ.1.1 are 2 of the most important variants in service at the moment pic.twitter.com/AvttFliZvP

—Eric Topol (@EricTopol) October 8, 2022

And then an interesting BA.2.75* x BJ.1 (which is itself a sublineage BA.2 – BA.2.10.1.1) recombinant – XBB. Fairly standard looking (spiky) single breakpoint recombinant but growing faster than any other recombinant currently… pic.twitter.com/XUm7ZI7lag

—Tom Peacock (@PeacockFlu) October 2, 2022

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