After assembly earlier this week to evaluate Omicron developments, the World Well being Group (WHO) SARS-CoV-2 virus evolution advisory group held off on designating XBB and BQ.1 sublineages as variants of concern.
In an announcement yesterday, the group mentioned it’ll reassess the scenario frequently. The group’s announcement comes as BQ.1 proportions are quickly rising in Europe and america.
Doable reinfection danger, however no signal of severity enhance
The WHO advisory group mentioned XBB and BQ.1 do not at present diverge sufficiently from one another or from different Omicron lineages which have further immune escape mutations to warrant a variant of concern designation or a brand new label. “The 2 sublineages stay a part of Omicron, which continues to be a variant of concern,” the group mentioned.
Up to now, XBB—a recombinant of the BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 subvariants—has been detected in 35 international locations and has a 1.3% world prevalence. The group mentioned XBB hasn’t been constantly linked with a rise in new infections, however they added that early proof suggests a better reinfection danger, particularly to individuals contaminated earlier than the Omicron variant started circulating. XBB’s potential to drive new an infection waves may rely upon each the scale and timing of earlier Omicron waves and COVID-19 vaccine protection.
BQ.1 is a BA.5 subvariant, and BQ.1.1 has an extra spike mutation at a key antigenic website. Between them, 65 international locations have detected the viruses, which have a 6% world prevalence.
The WHO group mentioned BQ.1 viruses have a development benefit over different Omicron lineages in lots of settings, together with Europe and america, which requires shut monitoring and will pose a better reinfection danger.
Up to now, there isn’t a proof of a rise in illness severity with both XBB or BQ.1 viruses.
European instances now declining
In a weekly replace right now, the European Centre for Illness Prevention and Management (ECDC) mentioned COVID instances and deaths declined barely final week, with hospitalization ranges remaining secure. Infections in individuals ages 65 and older, which had been growing over the previous few weeks, declined by 2%.
The ECDC mentioned it has reclassified BQ.1 as a variant of curiosity and that it represents a quickly growing proportion of variant detections over the European area.
In the meantime, the UK’s Health Security Agency (HSA) mentioned yesterday that almost all COVID indicators decreased final week in comparison with the earlier week. Hospitalizations are nonetheless highest in individuals ages 85 and older.
Mary Ramsay, MBBS, director of the HSA’s public well being applications, mentioned the drop in COVID instances and hospitalizations is encouraging and factors to the success of the nation’s autumn booster program, throughout which 10 million have already acquired their pictures. Nevertheless, she warned the general public to not grow to be complacent, provided that instances may rise rapidly once more all through the winter.
US markers secure, with rising BQ.1 proportions
In its up to date variant proportion estimates right now, the US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) reported one other regular rise in BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, which collectively make up 27.1% of subtyped lineages.
The proportion of BA.5 viruses continues to drop steadily and is now at 49.6%, down from 60.3% the week earlier than. Area 2, which incorporates New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, has the best proportion of BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 viruses.
At the moment, US instances have been declining slowly since July, with the US 7-day common for brand new day by day instances at 38,167 right now, in response to the Washington Submit tracker. Deaths have held regular since July, with the 7-day common for brand new day by day deaths at 461 right now, in response to the Submit information.
Up to now, 22.8 million individuals have acquired the up to date COVID booster, in response to the CDC’s newest information.