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Experts say XBB.1.5 variant is helping COVID to warm up to its former status as an epidermic and last quarter of 2023 will be scary. But will the world still be ravaged by this virus in year 2023?

“The question is not whether [XBB.1.5 is] going to cause a surge. It almost certainly will. The question is: How big is the surge going to be?”  Sam Scarpino

Corona Virus is a gathering whirlwind and according to U.S. infectious disease experts monitoring the very unpredictable cocktail of viruses birthed since the wake of COVID 19, “there’s bad news’, though mainstream news channels are not headlining it.

The “virus posing the biggest threat right now is — you guessed it — the one that causes COVID-19” says White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID data showing the growing impact of infection in the United States, a major destination for hospitality, business and health tourism, is revving up health concerns and fears reminiscent of the last corona virus outbreak.

CDC COVID Death figures for 26th April
CDC COVID Death figures for 26th April

COVID-19 hospitalizations have jumped 70%, and 300 to 400 people die every day. “We’re seeing sustained increases of COVID infections across the nation… the rate at which the coronavirus is being detected in wastewater, has tripled or quadrupled in many parts of the U.S. Jha says told NPR in an interview.

CDC COVID hospitalization figures for 26th April
CDC COVID hospitalization figures for 26th April

CDC data on COVID is not helping to allay fears about the new dominant, even more easily transmissible omicron subvariant called XBB.1.5 because it accounts for almost a third of COVID infections and it only surfaced between December and January 23.

But why is omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 so easy to catch?

XBB.1.5 is the artful dodger of the pack. According to Sam Scarpino, a scientist tracking new variants at Northeastern University, “XBB.1.5 can partially sneak around immunity as easily as anything before it. And it has developed something none of its predecessors had: a mutation that lets it infect cells more easily than the others. That makes this version of COVID-19 even easier to catch.

Jesse Bloom, a virologist studying the variant at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle also disclosed that “XBB.1.5 has gotten a specific mutation that enables it to maintain antibody escape properties while also giving it an advantage for spreading through the population.”

“The question is not whether [XBB.1.5 is] going to cause a surge. It almost certainly will. The question is: How big is the surge going to be?” Scarpino added.

So public health authorities are once again urging people to protect themselves.

 

How to protect yourself from coronavirus subvariant XBB.1.5

The world’s first experience of the COVID epidermic collapsed global economy. But nations are now unwilling to close shop over another possible outbreak, preferring” work,” Jha says.

Forms of precautions against COVID illness include ‘getting vaccinated and boosted, especially if you’re … age 65 or older.

Avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated parties, restaurants, bars and other places of gathering; and wearing a mask in risky situations.

And if you do get sick, check with your doctor about getting treatment quickly.

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