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COVID-19: These two variants of Omicron are being called ‘cousins’, the biggest research on Corona surfaced

The UK’s Health Protection Agency released two new versions of Omicron at the end of October to BQ. 1 and renamed XBB. (File Photo)
Corona Virus: Britain’s Health Protection Agency in late October released two new forms of Omicron to BQ. 1 and renamed XBB. This means that health officials will keep an eye on them. However, at the moment they are not considered to be of concern.

Leeds (UK). Britain’s Health Protection Agency named two new variants of Omicron as BQ1 and XBB in late October. This means that health officials will keep an eye on them. However, at present, they are not considered worrisome variants. If we look at the different variants of Omicron as a family, the BA2 variant that came into effect in the UK this spring (the variant currently in effect in the UK) is the parent of the BA.5 and the BQ.1 is its descendant. In other words, BQ. 1 BA. 5 is a sub-variant.

XBB is a hybrid variant of Omicron’s BA 2 sub-variants BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75. So XBB is the second descendant of BA.2. Thus XXB and BQ.1 come from the same family and are ‘cousins’. A hybrid variant is formed when parts of the genetic material of two different sub-variants fuse together. We have seen this happen in the past with the coronavirus, which is denoted by different names starting with “X” (such as XD, XE, and XF).
Are they worrying?
But what should we understand about these variants? Let us first know how they are spreading. In the UK, Europe, and North America, outbreaks of BQ.1 are increasing rapidly. Recent figures from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate that 16.7 percent of infections in the country are from BQ.1 sub-lineages (including BQ.1 and BQ.1.1) while in the US, BQ.1 and BQ. About 35 percent of the cases of infection were reported from .1.1.
Outbreaks of XBB are more visible in Asia. ONS figures show that 0.7 percent of cases of infection with XBB have been reported in the UK. Of the recent cases reported in Singapore, 58 percent were of the XBB variant, but on the one hand, where XBB cases are increasing worldwide, on the other hand, its cases have started decreasing in Singapore. Scientists are closely monitoring the different areas where both these variants are being found so that it can be seen where more cases are being reported.
What is the difference between BQ.1 and XBB?
Omicron variants are successful because of multiple shared mutations in the ‘receptor-binding domain’ of the spike protein (a protein on the surface of the virus, which allows it to enter our cells). The receptor-binding domain (RBD) is an important part of the virus, which is located on the spike protein. The spike protein lets the RBD bind to the body’s receptor, after which it enters cells and spreads the infection. There is an important difference between Bq.1 and XB in their mutation and spread in different places. Through the spike protein, the virus infects our cells and targets our antibodies that protect against diseases.
A recent study suggests that mutations within the receptor-binding domain of XBB may help neutralize antibodies generated by Covid vaccines. The study says that among all the variants of the coronavirus we have seen, XBB is at the forefront of dodging antibodies.

Should we be worried about XBB?
Compared to BQ.1 and its parent variant Ba.5, XBB is more prone to evading the immune system, allowing it to spread more deeply, leading to an outbreak of the virus. The good news is that based on data from Singapore, the risk of hospitalization is estimated to be 30 percent lower in XBB than in BA.5, but we don’t have data for other countries right now so be it Maybe XBB will take off more widely.
There may be a second wave of coronavirus in Britain
There is also a possibility that Britain may face a double wave of coronavirus in the coming times. One of these waves can be generated from BQ.1 spread in Europe and America, while the other wave can be from XBB spread in Asia. In such a situation, only time can tell us whether the XBB will replace the BA.5 or BQ.1, or whether there is another variant waiting to spread its footing.



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