New COVID variant ‘could be one to watch in 2023’ after case spike, experts warn UK News

A new variant of COVID could be the one to “watch out for” this year after a spike in US cases, an expert said.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, highlighted a Omicron A scientist said cases in the U.S. have more than doubled in a week after the variant.

more than 40% or Coronavirus Cases in the United States are now caused by the XBB.1.5 variant, according to figures Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the northeastern United States, approximately 75% of confirmed cases were reported as XBB.1.5.

Since the original Omicron appeared a year ago, it has now surpassed all variants, and “we haven’t seen such a rapid increase in variants,” says US scientist Eric Topol.

In response, Professor Spector, founder of the COVID Zoe app, tweeted: “XBB may be the new variant to watch out for in 2023.”

XBB.1.5 is a mutated version of Omicron XBB that was first detected in India in August.

According to the World Health Organization, XBB has been detected in at least 70 countries, leading to a spike in infections in parts of Asia in October, including India and Singapore.

The study found that the strain was able to evade antibodies produced by previous COVID infections or vaccinations.

Concerns about XBB.1.5 are mainly based on how it is currently spreading in the US, and it has not been listed as a variant of concern by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

About 4% of all COVID cases in the UK in the week to Saturday 17 December were of the XBB 1.5 variant, according to the Cambridge Sanger Institute.

“A wake-up call”

Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections, UKHSA, said: “It is not surprising to see new variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerging. As always, UKHSA is monitoring the situation closely.

“Vaccination remains our best defense against future waves of COVID-19, so it remains as important as ever that people get all eligible vaccines as soon as possible.”

But Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, said the new strain was a “wake-up call” that could exacerbate the outbreak NHS crisis.

He told Mail Online: “We don’t know how this variant will behave in populations in the UK who have been previously exposed to other Omicron variants and where many people over the age of 50 have received a booster shot of the bivalent vaccine.

“Still, this is a wake-up call – a poignant reminder that we cannot afford to be complacent about COVID.

“The threat of XBB.1.5 and other COVID variants further exacerbates the current NHS crisis, underscoring our need to remain vigilant.”

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NHS stress now ‘worse than peak COVID’

Dr. Barbara Mahon of the CDC said there is no indication that the XBB.1.5 variant causes more severe disease than any other Omicron variant.

“We’re seeing an increase in hospitalizations across the country. They don’t seem to be increasing more in areas that have more XBB.1.5,” she told NBC News.

New variant “next big”

While many public health experts are concerned about rising COVID cases in China — UK among countries introducing new testing restrictions – Infectious disease experts are increasingly concerned about the XBB.1.5 variant.

“The irony is that the worst variant the world is currently facing may actually be XBB,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota.

American epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding also called XBB.1.5 “the next big virus”, saying that it is “more able to evade immunity and better at infecting” than previous variants.

Dr. Isaach Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, said XBB.1.5 clearly has “immune evasion properties” and “we’re definitely going to have a wave.”

But if that happens, he said, it’s unlikely to be as deadly or overwhelming to the healthcare system as previous waves have been because immunity has built up.

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