The Fast-Spreading New COVID-19 Subvariant XBB Is Part of a ‘New Class’ of Omicron

Fast-Spreading New COVID-19 Subvariant XBB: Omicron subvariants BA.4 (and BA.5) have been dominating COVID-19 cases in America for the past few months. There is a new class of COVID subvariants that are gaining attention. It’s known as XBB (or Gryphon) and there’s a possibility it could surpass all other COVID subvariants.

XBB is gaining a lot of attention because it spreads quickly and seems to be able to evade the immune system that people have developed from previous COVID-19 infections or having the vaccine. William Schaffner M.D., an infectious diseases specialist, and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine said that XBB is generating a lot of buzz. Dr. Schaffner said that it was still early and there is much to learn.

What is the XBB COVID variant?

Thomas Russo M.D. is a professor and chief infectious disease specialist at the University at Buffalo, New York. XBB is one among the Omicron variants that are spreading quickly right now. He says that this includes BQ.1.1 and BQ.1.3, as well as BA.2.3.20 and XBB.

Amesh A. Adalja M.D. is a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “XBB” is a hybrid of two strains from the BA.2 Omicron form. He says it is currently “spreading effectively in Singapore”.

According to the Ministry of Health in Singapore, the variant was first identified in August 2022 in India. It has since been found in more than 17 countries, including Australia and Bangladesh.

According to a Chinese pre-print study, XBB appears to be the most capable of evading antibody protections from these new COVID variants. According to a Chinese pre-print study, XBB and Omicron were found to have the best ability to evade antibody protections from these newly emerged COVID variants.

The vaccine and previous COVID-19 treatments aren’t thought to provide the same protection against XBB, as they did with other COVID-19 strains. Pre-print research suggests that antibody drugs such as Evusheld or bebtelovimab might not be effective against XBB.

Dr. Russo states that “these variants are evolving in order to evade protection.” Dr. Russo states that the bivalent booster will “likely be protective against severe diseases” with XBB but “imperfect against preventing infections.”

Don’t panic, though. Dr. Adalja states that “vaccine protection is not all or nothing” when it comes to evasion. “Vaccine protection against severe disease, even with immune-evasive variants is still intact,” Dr. Adalja says.

XBB Variant Symptoms

So far, the symptoms of XBB appear to be very similar to those of COVID-19 in general. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these may include:

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
Fever or chills
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
New loss of taste or smell
Sore throat

How contagious is the XBB subvariant?

XBB, like other Omicron strains, is highly contagious. The Ministry of Health in Singapore has noted that XBB now accounts for 54% of COVID-19-related cases in the country. This is an increase from 22% the previous week.

The Ministry of Health in Singapore says that XBB can be transmitted to at least one person as well as the current circulating variants. However, it adds that there is no evidence that XBB causes more serious illnesses.

When will the XBB subvariant peak?

There are many unknowns regarding XBB at the moment. According to CDC data, it has been confirmed in the U.S. but BA.5 (and BA.4.6) remain the predominant variants.

Dr. Adalja states that other variants have also begun to spread simultaneously. It’s not clear which variant will replace BA.4.6 or BA.5 in the U.S., though they may. He says that it is likely to spread in the U.S., but it’s not clear if it or another related variant like BQ.1.1 will become dominant.

Dr. Schaffner said there was “some concern” regarding XBB and other variants that are on the rise. He says, “It is important to monitor what happens in the coming weeks.”

Also Read: What Do We Know About Marburg Virus Disease?

As of press time, this article is correct. Some information might have changed since the last update. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving and scientists gain more knowledge about the novel coronavirus. We try to keep our stories current, but we recommend that you visit the CDC, WHO, and your local public healthcare department for the most recent news. For professional medical advice, always consult your doctor.

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