Explained: What is Covid-19 variant XBB.1.5 and should you be worried?

Covid-19 XBB.1.5 variant has been detected in the United States of America triggering rumours of a new sub-lineage of Omicron. This variant is still not found in India.

By KANIZA GARARI  Published on  3 Jan 2023 11:00 AM GMT
Explained: What is Covid-19 variant XBB.1.5 and should you be worried?

Hyderabad: Covid-19 XBB.1.5 variant has been detected in the United States of America triggering rumours of a new sub-lineage of Omicron.

This variant is still not found in India.

Omicron was found in 99% of the samples tested by INSAGOG (Indian SARS-Cov-2 Consortium on Genomics) in India. The sub-lineage XBB was found in 47% of the samples, BA.2.75 in 12% of the samples, BA.5 and BQ in 6% of the samples, and other Omicron sub-lineages in 29% of the samples.

What is XBB 1.5?

It is a special upgrade of XBB and the virus in its evolution mechanism has two nucleotides instead of one.

XBB had only one nucleotide which enabled it to escape immunity but slowed it down too, reducing the sickness in humans.

With two nucleotides, XBB 1.5 has created a perfect mutation and outgrown other sub-lineages.

Dr. Rajeev Jayavadhan of the Covid-19 Task Force, explains, "At this point, there is no indication that it causes more severe disease. This new variant is growing in the US and other countries but is not yet found in India. We have to continue the genomic analysis of clusters of cases. If there are any unusual symptoms, it must be reported."

Genomic information from China limited

While genomic surveillance is active around the world, there is still no proper information from China.

Experts state that other countries are updating about the sub-lineages circulating in their population regularly. But in China, there is a massive outbreak and there is still no clarity on which sub-lineages are circulating.

Those who are travelling from China to other parts of the world are under strict scrutiny in many countries. This is because the genomic data available from China is very limited. This makes it very important to check those who are travelling from China and South East Asian countries to other parts of the world. Monitoring the travellers is important as there can be a mutation and it is very important that any new development in the virus must not be missed.

With Covid-19 entering its fourth year, there is fear that there will be one more mutation that can trigger a massive wave. To check this, genomic surveillance across all countries has been increased. The data is being shared to understand the evolution process and its impact on humans.

Next Story
Share it