XBB Covid strain has not raised concern as it does not appear more ‘virulent’ than Omicron
Why experts aren’t worried about new ‘nightmare’ Covid strain as health officials confirm strain is spreading in Australia
- New strain of Covid rampant in Australia has not raised concerns among experts
- XBB strain has emerged no more ‘virulent’ than its Omicron predecessors
- The strain is resistant to vaccines and antibodies built up from previous infections
A new Covid strain starting to spread in Australia has not raised concern among experts as it appears to be no more ‘virulent’ than its predecessors.
The XBB strain, which recently surfaced in Singapore, is sweeping the country with cases increasing tenfold in a matter of weeks.
Some international reports and experts have called the strain the “nightmare variety” and fear it may be the “most vaccine-resistant yet.”
A new strain of Covid raging in Australia has not raised concern among experts as it appears to be no more ‘virulent’ than its predecessors (stock image)
The XBB strain, which recently surfaced in Singapore, is sweeping the country with cases increasing tenfold in a matter of weeks (stock image)
The strain is also resistant to antibodies built up from previous infections.
Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious disease expert, said there was no concern about the new species yet, as it did not appear to increase hospitalizations or deaths.
“We won’t see the same high hospitalizations and high death rates that we saw between December and July, because that’s when all the variants were circulating and people were basically getting infected for the first time,” he said.
The World Health Organization said there was no cause for alarm as its virulence did not appear to “deviate” from its Omicron predecessor.
The XBB strain, another spin-off of the Omicron variant, went from a fifth of Covid cases in Singapore to more than half in just a week.
The strain has also been found in several states in Australia, including NSW and Victoria.
Victoria’s chief health officer, Professor Brett Sutton, urged residents to take precautions to avoid becoming infected with the new species.
Australians are encouraged by health authorities to still wear masks if a new Covid variant emerges (pictured, a woman at Sydney’s Paddy’s Markets this week)
‘Surveillance shows the presence of multiple Omicron subvariants in Victoria, including rapid growth of (the Omicron subvariant) BQ. 1 and XBB in the past month, with a combined prevalence of about 10 percent in wastewater and clinical samples,” he said.
“As the number of cases rises locally and internationally, particularly in Europe and Southeast Asia, Victorians are being reminded that vaccination, masks, ventilation, testing, staying home when sick and COVID-19 treatments are highly effective in reducing transmission , illness and deaths and also to protect the health system.’
Leading infectious disease experts estimate that about 80 percent of Australians have had Covid in the three years since the pandemic hit our shores in January 2020.
Professor Catherine Bennett, an infectious disease expert from Deakin University, believes Australia has much higher hybrid immunity to new variants than a year ago when Omicron first reached our shores, triggering an explosion of cases.
The XBB strain has been detected in several states across the country including NSW and Victoria (Sydneysiders pictured in the CBD this week)
“More than half the population has both been vaccinated and contracted an infection, and that puts you in a more resilient position in future waves,” Professor Bennett told NewsCorp.
In Singapore, XBB has overtaken BA.5 as the most dominant species, responsible for more than 60 percent of new cases.
Singaporean scientists estimate that it is 30 percent milder than the previously dominant BA.5 Omicron strain.
It was first discovered in India in August, authorities said, but sparked a wave only this month.