New XBB variant of Covid: what do we know about this cousin of Omicron which could arrive in France?

A sub-variant of Omicron, the XBB variant developed quickly where it appeared in Asia in September. Its contagiousness worries scientists, even if vaccines remain effective against its severe forms.

Fatigue, cough, fever and headache… The symptoms of this new variant of Covid are close to its cousins ​​BA.4 and BA.5. While it has spread widely in Singapore, it has also been detected in Europe, notably in Denmark, the United Kingdom or Belgium. According to European 1he now threatens to establish himself in France.

A highly contagious variant

Like most Omicron strains, XBB is particularly contagious. This mutation resulting from several Omicron sublineages quickly spread to Singapore, where 6,800 cases of Covid have been identified over 7 days. However, even if it is more contagious than variants like Delta, it does not represent the same danger, being for the moment less virulent.

According to Antoine Flahault, director of the Global Health Institute of the Faculty of Medicine of Geneva interviewed on European 1XBB would represent 5% of positive results in Australia, a proportion that is currently less of a concern than for other more virulent variants.

Effective vaccines against severe forms

Despite its contagiousness, this subvariant should not increase the proportion of serious forms. For Antoine Flahault, “You are today very well protected against serious forms. Today we have no reason to think that it will not continue with the lesser known variants that are emerging”.

Even if he is not able to escape acquired immunitynamely the protection provided by vaccination or previous contamination with Covid, the vaccination would remain effective to avoid its serious forms.

In Singapore, where it is developing the most, the government is setting up a vaccination campaign from this Friday in order to carry out a preventive operation and avoid serious forms. Authorities recommend wearing FFP2 masks and the application of barrier gesturesin order to stem the recovery caused by XBB.

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