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When Will Mass Reach? – NBC Boston

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Researchers say the new so-called “nightmare” variant of COVID-19, XBB, is spreading rapidly in parts of the world and is already on its way to the United States.

XBB is a variant of omicron and has been called the “nightmare variant” in Singapore. It is extremely immune evasive and has also shown to be immune to current vaccines.

Founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, Dr. “The XBB variable wave in Singapore will soon be the 2nd worst wave for the pandemic,” tweeted Eric Topol. “The re-infection rate before the wave was 5% and now it’s up to 17%, which tells us the immune escape properties of this variant (similar to BQ.1.1, very high immune evasion)”

According to Fortune, XBB was first spotted in the US on September 15. It is not yet common as only 16 cases have been reported here, mostly in New York.

The CDC’s latest update on prevalence of COVID variants shows no signs of XBB yet in New England as BA.5, BA.4.6 and new variants BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 continue to dominate. But throughout the pandemic, COVID numbers in New York have often provided an early look at what Massachusetts and other southern New England states have in store.

Infectious disease expert, who serves as the technical leader of the COVID-19 response at the World Health Organization, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove posted a video on Twitter on Wednesday to address growing concerns about the XBB variant. She said xbb is a “recombinant” of two BA.2 sublineages, BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.10.75.

“We know that this recombinant has a significant growth advantage. All subvariants of Omicron show features of increased permeability and immune evasion,” he said. “We have a study with this XBB recombinant based on a pseudo virus, not a live virus, that analyzes antibody escape and shows significant immune leakage. And this is worrying for us because we need to make sure that vaccines are in use worldwide, serious disease and will continue to be effective in preventing deaths.”

Van Kerkhove said there were no signs of a significant increase in XBB and variants BQ.1.1 and BQ.1, “but it’s too early and we have too little data to assess this.”

“We need to be prepared for this,” he said. “Countries need to be in a position to conduct surveillance, cope with increases in cases and perhaps cope with an increase in hospitalizations. We are not yet seeing a change in severity and our vaccines continue to be effective, but we must remain vigilant.”

Across New England, cases of COVID have begun to creep in in recent weeks. Massachusetts health officials reported 7,865 new cases of COVID-19 and 60 new deaths in the report last week. The state’s seven-day average positivity was listed as 8.60% last week, compared to 7.76% the previous week. Updated statewide COVID data will be released Thursday afternoon.

The CDC’s level of COVID risk has been rising steadily in southern New England lately, as Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are all now included in the intermediate risk category.

Doctors interviewed by NBC10 Boston this week said they expected some winter fluctuation, but said there is no data yet that the new variants will cause more serious illness.

Boston Medical Center’s Dr. “Only time will tell,” said Sabrina Assoumou. “My big message is, unfortunately, we’re seeing more variants and the virus is actually finding better ways to evade our protection, but we’re not hopeless and it’s not a hopeless situation. We have vaccines, they really work, but the most important thing is that you need to be up to date… So please stay updated so we can prepare for a possible winter wave in the community.”

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. “I think we will continue to see the proportion of cases caused by new variants increase, because they seem to be able to evade immunity,” added Daniel Kuritzkes. “But for the general public. I think the problem will be, first of all, as Dr. Assoumo said, getting a booster vaccine will boost immunity because even if this variant can get over the antibodies and infect people.” and chill them, if they’ve gotten stronger recently they won’t have anything worse than an upper respiratory infection because there seems to be much broader cross protection in all these variants for severe disease and that’s the really important point.