The explosion of infections in China had raised the question of whether there was a new mutation at work in the People’s Republic SARS-CoV-2. In reality, based on the (partial) information we have, it is clear that crowding Chinese hospitals is one of the sub-variants of Omicron: the BF.7. Like all Omicron mutations – discovered over a year ago in South Africa – it has a greater ability to escape vaccines and is highly contagious. BF.7 developed from precisely emerged from BA.5 (the currently dominant variant in Italy). While in China it is rampant, in other countries even European ones, such as France, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom are declining. In Italy it stands at 10%. Due to mutations on the S or Spike protein, the harpoon that allows the virus to bind and invade human cells, giving life to the infection, it is extremely contagious. A situation that alarmed the WHO, which asked for “more precise data to be able to assess the risk”. Since the Zero Covid policy ended, the Organization said it has no longer received information on hospitalizations. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established an interprovincial data collection network to monitor the development of new variants.
Yet another mutant is causing concern in the United States. This is XBB.1.5 or Gryphon. Until a few weeks ago it was almost an imperceptible stripe on the graph of the variants of the coronavirus spread in the USA. Then it slowly went up, but in the last three weeks the rate at which it climbed became much faster and, now, “XBB.1.5 has more than doubled in the US in 1 week”, according to projections for the current 7 days , as pointed out by the American scientist Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, who posted a graph on Twitter which ‘mapped’ the distribution of the variants present in the country. This is a forecast (very short-term, as it relates to the current week). The sublineage of the christened Gryphon family on social media (recombinant of two sublineages of Omicron 2) is now given just over 40% (40.5%), notes Topol, and has “surpassed all variants”, Cerberus (the single BQ. 1.1) included.
All we know about the XBB.1.5 variant summarized here a week agohttps://t.co/mnaA3kemLp
We’ve not seen such rapid growth of a variant since Omicron BA.1 a year ago. Total US XBB last week = 18% of cases. Northeast now ~75% XBB.1.5. Perhaps CDC and media will finally take note
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) December 30, 2022
And in Italy? As regards the period relating to the period 14 November 2022 – 25 December 2022, according to data from the Higher Institute of Health (ISS), almost all of the cases are due to the Omicron variant, which constitutes 99.95% of the deposited sequencing . The remaining 0.05% can be attributed to Delta/Omicron recombinants.
The BA.5 lineage is predominant (91.09%, versus 0.05% for BA.1, 5.5% for BA.2, 0% for BA.3 and 0.7% for BA.4). Within the BA.5 lineage, 151 different sub-lineages have been identified. Among them the most frequent are BQ.1.1, the so-called Cerberus (30.84%), BF.7 (10.31%), BQ.1 (5.24%). Very few deposited sequences of BA.2.75, the so-called Centaurus, corresponding to 0.2% of the total. Furthermore, says the ISS, “we also continue to monitor the circulation of the recombinant XBB (recombinant of the sub-lineages BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75) and related sub-lineages, recently defined Gryphon. These recombinants have been considered for several weeks variants of interest due to the presence of mutations associated with immune-evasion ability. At the moment the sequences on the platform are pare at 2% of the totala substantially stable value compared to the November bulletin”.
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BF.7 in China and Gryphon in the USA are of concern
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