The new XBB.1.5 variant arrives in Quebec

(Montreal) The new XBB.1.5 variant, “the most transmissible yet discovered,” now accounts for 2.4% of new cases in Quebec. He was reportedly first spotted in late November in the county, but it was during the Eid holidays that he started to make his presence more felt.


“My concern is that two weeks ago the XBB.1.5 was at 0.5%. After two weeks, it has increased fivefold,” says Dr.s Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and microbiologist at McGill University Health Center.

XBB.1.5, from the same family as Omicron, is “the most transmissible sub-variant yet discovered,” the World Health Organization (WHO) warned this week. It has so far been identified in 38 countries, with the majority of cases in the United States.

In fact, the XBB.1.5 variant currently accounts for 27.6% of cases reported in our southern neighbors, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It accounted for just 2.3% of cases at the beginning of December.

says ds Vinh. “We have to watch what is happening in the United States to know what will happen in Canada,” he said.

more transferable

Dr. explains.Dr Inès Levade, Specialist Scientific Advisor at Laboratoire de santé publique du Québec and Coordinator of the Expert Committee on Genomic Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2.

says d.s Vinh. Moreover, monoclonal antibodies appear to be ineffective in neutralizing them, he says.

According to the first data, a booster dose with a bivalent vaccine makes it possible to produce neutralizing antibodies, indicates D.s Vinh, who is calling on Quebecers to get a booster shot if they haven’t yet.

Good news: There is no data to indicate whether the variant causes more or less severe infections, “but what we’re seeing so far, it won’t be in the direction of a variant that would cause more severe symptoms in the event of infection,” notes Dr.Dr yeast.

“We are not worried”

The Minister for Health, Christian Dube, claims he discussed the status of the XBB.1.5 variant on Tuesday with the National Director of Public Health, Dr.s Luke Boileau. “There are situations in certain places where this popular genre is very unsettling, like in New York. […] So far, the drs Boileau tells us we’re not worried, but we’ll definitely be following it closely because we’ve seen this: When it happens, it happens quickly,” he said.

“I don’t want to be overly optimistic or pessimistic. I just want to be realistic. For those who haven’t been vaccinated yet: go get vaccinated.”

The World Health Organization on Wednesday hailed the United States’ “extreme transparency” in its fight against XBB.1.5. The World Health Organization believes that this alternative could “lead to an increase in cases of infection”, but stresses that it is forced to base it almost exclusively on the situation in the United States.

In addition, the World Health Organization regrets the lack of sequencing in the world, which makes it possible to quickly detect new subtype variants. Dr. is consideredDr But Levad maintains that Quebec provides good oversight.

Each week, the Quebec Public Health Laboratory Selects 600 samples that test positive for COVID-19 across the county where sequencing is performed. “It gives us an idea [des variants] which is going on at the Quebec level,” explains DrDr yeast.

High incidence of coronavirus

COVID-19 continues to weigh heavily on the health network. Quebec counted 2,095 people who were hospitalized Wednesday and tested positive, up 2% in one week. Of these, 716 patients were hospitalized directly for COVID-19 infection, and the others were admitted for another reason.

The six deaths reported on Wednesday bring the daily average calculated over a seven-day period to nine. Thus, a total of 17,774 Quebecers have succumbed to COVID-19 over the past three years.

It is difficult to read the trend in the current spread of the epidemic at the beginning of the year. The government restricted access to PCR testing in December, causing the number of officially detected cases to drop. However, the positivity rate remains high, which is a sign that COVID-19 has not gone away.

Moreover, weekly surveys by the National Institute of Public Health show that nearly 30,000 Quebecers continue to become infected every day. This is still down from a peak of 36,000 infections per day.

With Fanny Lévesque and Pierre-André Normandin, JournalismAnd And Agence France-Presse

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