Perhaps this snippet is more appropriate for Halloween than for the festive holiday season, but the new evidence predicts that four Omicron subvariants of the virus that causes COVID-19 will be the most common strains going from person to person this winter. The BQ.1, BQ1.1, XBB, and XBB.1 subvariants are the most resistant to neutralizing antibodies, , this means that you have no or extremely reduced protection against infection from these four strains, even if you’ve already had COVID-19 or are vaccinated and boosted multiple times, including with a bivalent vaccine.
On top of that, all available antibody treatments are mostly or completely ineffective against these subvariants. In fact, CDC released a new study this week that shows people who have received four shots of the original COVID-19 vaccines as well as the bivalent booster were 57% less likely to need medical treatment, regardless of age, but the hospitalizations are up 18% over the past 2 weeks and COVID-19 deaths are up 50% worldwide The BQ.1 subvariant is 6 times more resistant to antibodies than BA.5, and XBB.1 is 63 times more resistant compared to its predecessor, BA.2. This shift in the ability of vaccines to stop the subvariants is particularly concerning.
Be safe this Christmas!
21st December 2022