The severity of XBB in comparison to other Omicron sub-variants is not more significant. But scientists at the WHO are cautious about the viruses ‘growth potential’ = how quickly it can infect people.
What About The Other Variants?
The other sub-variants, like BQ1 and BQ1.1, have been popping up in Nigeria, the UK, Japan, Canada, France, Belgium, New Zealand, Denmark, the U.S., Italy and even in South Africa, to name just a few places. A study has just come out of the USA which analysed new COVID-19 variants with the aim to accurately and reliably predict the next dominant variant. In this study, Chen et al., (2022) found that the ‘binding free energy’ or BFE of a variant is a good predictor of how infectious the variant will be.
This basically boils down to scientists have a way of measuring and comparing variants to predict which one will become dominant. This is important because as people stop mass testing between borders and COVID gets pushed to the back of peoples minds, scientists have less and less data to work with. Meaning, it’s getting increasingly difficult to understand accurately which COVID variants are circulating and impacting people (WHO, 2022).
This has left experts predicting that BA.2.10.4, BA.2.75, BA.2.75+R346T, and BQ.1.1 have a high chance of becoming the new dominant COVID-19 strains (Chen et al., 2022).
We are mostly unaware of just how much bacteria and viruses we come into contact with every day. While our immune system is exceptionally capable of protecting us most of the time, it is not invincible. That is why vaccination, especially childhood vaccinations, are extremely important.