What are the experts saying about the highly transmissible XBB Covid variant?

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After appearing in Singapore for the first time, the Omicron sub-lineage XBB of COVID-19 has found its way to the Indian public. Known for its highly contagious nature, an expert panel, however, has observed that Indian patients have reported mild illness and no increase in severity. 

INSACOG, or Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics, a group of 54 laboratories across the country that monitor the different iterations of the virus made the observations. 

“Modest increase in the spread of XBB in Singapore has been observed. However, there has been no report of increase in severity of disease or increase in hospitalization associated with these variants,” read the report. 

“Among the Indian patients, the disease is mild like with other Omicron sub-lineages, and no increase in severity is noted,” it added.

While the severity might be low, the body said that nearly 50 per cent of te samples sequenced in the past couple of weeks tested positive for it. 

As reported by WION, the XBB variant was first reported in Singapore and is expected to become the next dominant strain of Covid. Health experts are hopeful that the population’s level of hybrid immunity will not lead to severe illnesses. 

Up until mid-October, over 60 per cent of the new cases in Singapore were attributed to the XBB variant.  

Read more: XBB, BA.5, BQ.1.1 & more: The ‘Scrabble’ COVID-19 variants taking over the world

The new Omicron strains such as XBB, BA.5 and BQ.1.1are also known as “Scrabble” variants, a term coined by Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital. The nickname refers to the alphabets B, Q and X that fetch a whole lot of points in the game.

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Experts say that XBB has been found to evade vaccine-derived protections in a research. However, vaccination can keep severe symptoms at bay. In fact, as it becomes colder outside, more variants are likely to emerge. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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