The Fast-Spreading New COVID-19 Subvariant XBB Is Part of a ‘New Class’ of Omicron

The Fast-Spreading New COVID-19 Subvariant XBB Is Part of a ‘New Class’ of Omicron

Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 have dominated COVID-19 cases in the United States over the past few months. However, a new class of COVID subvariants is already emerging, and one, in particular, is receiving a lot of attention. It goes by the name of XBB, or Gryphon, and there’s a possibility it will surpass all other systems.
According to William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, XBB is generating a lot of buzzes because it spreads quickly and appears to be able to evade immunity that people have developed from having a prior COVID-19 infection or from receiving the vaccine. We still have a lot to learn, adds Dr. Schaffner, adding that “it’s early days.” Here is what we now know about XBB and why doctors are closely monitoring it.
What does XBB COVID stand for?
Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University of Buffalo in New York, adds that XBB is one of the “new class” of Omicron variations that are now spreading quickly. He lists these as BQ.1.1, BQ.1, BQ.1.3, BA.2.3.20, and XBB.
Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, notes that “XBB is a hybrid version of two strains of the BA.2 type of Omicron.” He continues, “It’s spreading effectively in Singapore right now.”

According to Singapore’s Ministry of Health, the variation was discovered for the first time in India in August 2022 and has since been found in more than 17 nations, including Australia, Bangladesh, Denmark, India, Japan, and the United States.

According to a pre-print study by researchers in China, XBB is expected to have the strongest capacity to resist antibody defenses among these recently revealed COVID variants. The novel Omicron strains, and specifically XBB, were described in that study as “the most antibody-evasive strain examined, significantly exceeding BA.5 and nearing SARS-CoV-1 level.” If you’re not aware of it, SARS-CoV-1 is the coronavirus strain that causes SARS, a respiratory virus that can result in serious disease.

Meaning that, in contrast to earlier strains of COVID-19, the vaccination and having previously received COVID-19 are not believed to provide as much protection against XBB. According to the pre-print study, anti-XBB medications like Evusheld and bebtelovimab may also not be particularly effective.

According to Dr. Russo, “These variations are developing to avoid protection.” According to Dr. Russo, the bivalent booster will “likely be protective against severe illness” in those with XBB but will be “imperfect towards avoiding infection.”

But don’t freak out. It’s crucial to understand that vaccination protection is not all or nothing when it comes to evasion, according to Dr. Adalja. “Vaccine protection against what matters most—severe disease—remains intact even with immune-evasive variations.”
symptoms of XBB variant

So far, XBB symptoms appear to be comparable to COVID-19 symptoms in general. The following are some examples, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Chills or a fever
  • · Cough
  • Shortness of breath or breathing issues
  • • Weakness
  • Body or muscle pains
  • head pain
  • A recent change in flavor or odour
  • A throatache
  • Bloating or a runny nose
  • Vomiting or nauseousness
  • • Diarrhea

The XBB subvariant has how much contagion?
XBB is regarded as being extremely infectious, just as other Omicron strains. According to Singapore’s Ministry of Health, the variation currently accounts for 54% of COVID-19 cases there, up from 22% the week prior.

XBB is “at least as transmissible as currently circulating variations,” according to Singapore’s Ministry of Health, but it also states that “there is no indication that XBB causes more severe disease.”
The XBB subvariant will peak when?

XBB currently has a number of unanswered questions. According to CDC statistics, BA.5 and BA.4.6 continue to be the most prevalent variations in the United States despite the fact that it has been found there.

According to Dr. Adalja, additional varieties are also beginning to proliferate. It is unknown which, if any, will supplant BA.4.6 and BA.5 in the United States. It’s uncertain if it—or another similar variation like BQ.1.1—will become prevalent in the United States, but it’s likely to spread there to some extent, according to him.

According to Dr. Schaffner, the emergence of XBB and related variations is causing “some worry.” It’s critical to keep an eye on what transpires over the next weeks, he asserts.

As of the time of publication, this article is true. However, some of the material could have changed since it was last updated due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s fast evolution and the scientific community’s growing understanding of the unique coronavirus. While we make every effort to keep all of our stories current, you may also stay up to date on the most recent information by visiting the websites of the CDC, WHO, and your local public health agency. A doctor should always be consulted for medical advice.