This week, a brand-new XBB COVID 19 variant made a significant splash in Singapore. From 4,780 on Monday to 11,720 on Tuesday, there have been more than twice as many new COVID instances, and XBB is probably certainly to blame. Recently, the identical sub-variant also arrived in Hong Kong.
XBB COVID 19 variant is in many respects the worst version of the virus to date. It is a severely mutated descendant of the Omicron variation of the SAR-CoV-2 virus, which caused a record wave of infection to start roughly a year ago.
It spreads faster than any variation or without an earlier one. Additionally, it avoids the monoclonal antibodies that could render a whole class of medications, such as COVID treatments, ineffective.
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It’s awful news, that’s all. While the initial immunizations are less effective against XBB, the good news is that Pfizer’s new “bivalent” vaccine boosters and Moderna appear to function effectively against XBB COVID 19 variant.
They won’t stop every infection or re-infection, but they should greatly reduce the possibility of developing a serious infection that could require hospitalization or result in death.
Maintaining current with boosters is “the most important thing you can do in preparation for what may follow,” according to Peter Hotez, a specialist in vaccine development at Baylor College, as the new coronavirus evolves to become more contagious and more resistant to specific types of medications.
In August, researchers found XBB COVID 19 variant for the first time. It is one of a number of significant subvariants that have developed from the original Omicron variant, progressively mutating the virus’s core components, particularly the spike protein, which is encoded in the virus’s genome.
At least seven new mutations may be found along the length of the XBB. Each of them carries alterations that, when combined, make it challenging for our immune systems to identify the subvariant, making it more likely that they will dodge our antibodies and infect our cells.
XBB COVID 19 variant appears to be gaining in Asia. BQ.1.1, a close relative of XBB, is rapidly spreading across Europe and some US states. A subset of key mutations is shared by XBB Omicron subvariants, particularly on the spike protein.
There is much competition as XBB COVID 19 variant fights to become the next dominant form of the novel-coronavirus. Surprisingly, XBB COVID 19 variant faces stiff competition from other novel-coronavirus strains as it attempts to take the lead as the virus’s next dominant form.
By conventional antibody therapies and even less so by antibodies produced by the top messenger-RNA vaccine prime doses, at least two of the Scrabble subvariants, XBB and BQ.1, are virtually undetectable. As XBB or one of its relatives becomes prevalent worldwide, the recent increase in infections in areas like Singapore is a precursor to a likely global increase this upcoming winter or spring.
Therefore, if you had an earlier form of Omicron, such as during the wave of infections that peaked around February last year and started around Thanksgiving, you might still have strong antibodies for a few months. There is more than enough time to supplement those dwindling natural antibodies with a dose of the most recent mRNA boosters.
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We’re going to eventually need another new booster to keep up with the virus’s rapid evolution. An annual COVID booster is becoming more and more popular among health experts. We will now be able to annually update our vaccines to target the prevalent form as the virus changes, Biden added.
However, if, as some epidemiologists worry, natural antibodies deteriorate more quickly and the novel coronavirus mutates more quickly than expected, one booster shot per year could not be sufficient.
If it turns out we need twice-yearly boosters, one worry is whether business can quickly manufacture new shots and quickly get them approved by health organizations. Will enough individuals receive the booster, even if a fresh dose is made accessible every six months or so, to have an impact on the overall rates of serious disease and death? Whether or not many people are paying attention, the novel-coronavirus will keep evolving and finding innovative methods to circumvent our antibodies.