BQ.1 Scientists Fear Covid Variants Are Dangerous—Like 2020

New covid-19 subtypes Not just dominating the entire world More infectious than previous variants and subtypes– They can also cause very serious illness.

As experts predict, it is an ominous sign if there is a new wave of COVID in the coming months. It’s one thing to deal with outbreaks of infections that often result in mild illness. Cases are increasing, but so are hospitalizations and deaths Don’t. But the rise in serious illness can lead to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths.

It may be again in 2020 or 2021. The big difference is that we now have easy access to safe and effective vaccines. Vaccines are still effective against new subtypes.

A new study Ohio State University’s first red flag. A team led by Shan-Lu Liu, co-director of HSU’s Viruses and Emerging Pathogens Program, developed the model. New SARS-CoV-2 subtypes including BQ.1 and its close relative, BQ.1.1.

The team confirmed what we already knew: BQ.1 and other new subtypes, most of which are descendants of the BA.4 and BA.5 forms of the omicron variant, are highly infectious. And the same mutations that make them so contagious make them unrecognizable to antibodies produced by monoclonal therapies, rendering those treatments ineffective.

As the BQ.1 and its cousins ​​outperform the BA.4 and BA.5 and dominate more countries and states, it should be enough to warrant close attention. But then Liu and his colleagues also checked the “fusogenicity” of the subtypes. That is, how well they combine with our own cells. “Fusion between the virus and the cellular membrane is a key step in virus entry,” Liu told The Daily Beast.

In general, the higher the fusogenicity, the more severe the disease. Liu and his colleagues “observed increased cell-cell fusion in several new omicron subtypes compared to their respective parental subtypes,” they wrote in their study, which appeared online Oct. 20 and is still under peer review. New England Journal of Medicine.

If these new sub-variants are indeed more spreadable And More severe, they could be an important trend reversal as the Covid pandemic heads into its fourth year. The trend, so far, is that each successive major variant or sub-variant is more infectious, but causes less severe disease.

That trend, combined with widespread vaccination and new treatments, has led to what scientists call a “disconnect” in infections and deaths. As some new, highly infectious new variant or sub-variant dominates, the cases of Covid increase from time to time. But because these new forms of SARS-CoV-2 cause less severe disease, deaths will not increase nearly as much.

That disconnect, thanks to the availability of vaccines and treatments, has allowed most people around the world to return to some sort of normalcy over the past year. If BQ.1 or another highly fusogenic subvariant again causes couple infections and deaths, that new normal becomes a new nightmare. Ali Moqdad, a professor of health metrology at the University of Washington Institute for Health, who was not involved in the OSU study, summed it up with “higher hospitalizations and deaths.”

We may have already seen the first recovery. As new subtypes have begun to compete vigorously for dominance in recent months, epidemiologists have looked closely at Covid statistics to gauge real-world impacts.

Singapore is a false flag. The tiny Asian city-state had a rapid, up-and-down surge in cases this month that some experts initially worried might contain a dangerous new sub-variant. But the country’s health ministry sequenced lots of virus samples and quickly determined that BA.5 was the culprit. Singapore’s high vaccination and promotion rates — 92 percent of residents have their main jabs and 80 percent are up to date — slowed the BA.5 outbreak without a major spike in deaths.

But then there’s Germany, where cases also spiked this month. German authorities have not yet determined which variant or sub-variant is responsible, but it is notable that BQ.1 is spreading rapidly across Europe.

There are signs of reunification in Germany. In October, the country recorded 175,000 new cases per day – matching the peak of the previous wave in July. But an average of 160 Germans died each day during the worst week of the current uprising, whereas only 125 died per day during the worst week of the summer uprising. “We can see similar patterns in other European countries … and in the United States,” Moqdad said.

We still don’t know a lot about the latest covid subtypes. Their real-world impact won’t come into focus until we get good data from Germany. “It is very important to closely monitor new variants and study their properties,” Liu said.

But one thing is clear. All their transmissibility and fusogenicity, new subspecies No significantly escaped the immunological effects of the lead vaccines. And the latest “bivalent” boosters designed for BA.4 and BA.5 should maintain vaccine efficacy as long as the dominant subvariants are close to Omicron.

Get vaccinated and stay on top of your boosters. This cannot be overemphasized. Yes, BQ.1 and its relatives exhibit some dangerous traits that could bend the epidemic curve back toward widespread death and disruption.

But only if you’re unvaccinated or behind on your boosters.

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