HONG KONG has found 29 people from overseas infected with the new Covid variant XBB and while the majority came from Singapore, three are from Thailand, TV Channel 7 said today (Oct. 13).
Dr. Anan Jongkaewwattana, director of the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology’s Veterinary Health Innovation and Management Research Group, said in a Facebook post said the data from Hong Kong’s Public Health Authority shows that of the 29 overseas visitors found infected with the new variant 24 were detected upon arrival and five others after two days’ stay.
While 13 were from Singapore, five were from India, three Thailand, two each from the UK and Indonesia, and one each from the US, Germany, UAE and Czech Republic.
It is interesting that three Thais were found to be infected with the XBB strain and this indicates that these cases may have already blended in with overall Covid cases in the country, but random tests have not detected it.
Dr. Anan mentioned that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had issued a document stating that a new Covid wave is sweeping Europe. This is different from the previous one in that the influenza virus is spreading in tandem with the Covid virus and puts vulnerable groups at risk.
Both Covid and influenza vaccines would play an important role in preventing severe symptoms in high-risk groups, he added.
Experts are paying close attention to the XBB strain, which combines two different Omicron strains, an article written by Nicholas Gordon and published by Fortune also circulated by Yahoo! News said.
Eric Topol, founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, tweeted that XBB is one “of the most important variants [to] watch right now.”
The new strain is “probably the most immune-evasive yet” due to its combination of mutations from other strains, Raj Rajnarayanan, a professor at the New York Institute of Technology’s Jonesboro, Ark., campus, told Fortune in September. A preprint study from Oct. 4, authored by researchers at Peking University and Changping Laboratory, found that XBB had the greatest ability to evade antibody protections among newly emerging variants.
Experts are also concerned that monoclonal antibody treatments might be less effective against newer variants like XBB and BA.2.75.2. “We’ve not seen this type of immune evasion before,” Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), told Fortune earlier this month.
Graphic images of Covid-19. Top: Ecdc.europa.eu, Front Page: Paho.org