Should we fear the new variant of COVID-19 XBB.1.5?

There’s a new subspecies of Omicron that’s getting ahead really fast in the US and it’s starting to worry some people here in Quebec.

By the end of the year, the new XBB.1.5 variant was overwhelmingly popular. In the United States, it accounts for more than 40% of cases, according to the latest estimates from health authorities.

It will be more contagious and more dangerous.

“This is the ninth mutation in BA.2,” explains Diane LaMarre. “It’s the fusion of two BA.2 variants that results in this type of coinage that has a rapid and persistent ability to evade our antibodies.”

Ms. Lamarre estimates the presence of this variant to be as high as 75% in the northeastern United States.

“It certainly provides protection,” explains Ms. Lamarre. “What we have protection is mainly from hospitalization and severity of infection, but when transmissible, this virus still spreads well despite vaccination.”

This rapid spread raises fears of a new wave of COVID-19 among our southern neighbors, particularly with increased contacts during the holiday season.

Since Omicron’s arrival, the number of infected people has steadily increased and the hospital occupancy rate has remained high.

“People are dying a little less, but we still have to make sure we keep up with our vaccinations,” recalls Ms. Lamarre.

Despite the fact that this is a new variant, Ms. Lamarre explains that the recommendations remain the same.

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