1. The strain was identified Jan. 19 in the U.K. As of March 25, authorities had confirmed 637 cases of XE through genetic sequencing.
2. Initial estimates suggest XE is 10 percent more transmissible than BA.2, though more research is needed to confirm this finding, WHO said.
3. XE is a recombinant variant, meaning it comprises genetic materials from two distinct virus strains.
“Recombinant variants are not an unusual occurrence, particularly when there are several variants in circulation, and several have been identified over the course of the pandemic to date,” Dr. Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for the U.K. Health Security Agency, said in a March 25 news release.
4. XE will maintain its omicron variant designation unless further research reveals significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, WHO said.
5. Chinese health authorities also recently identified two new omicron subvariants — one derived from BA.1 and one from BA.2 — that don’t match any existing sequences in China or international databases, according to Bloomberg. Each subvariant was found in just one individual, and it’s still unclear whether the cases are one-off events or more significant findings.
”…When the CDC signed-off on the additional doses, it said those eligible can get the additional shots but stopped short of an explicit recommendation. Data from Israel has shown there’s little downside to getting another shot, but federal officials didn’t feel evidence was strong enough to make an explicit recommendation. The agency’s director, Rochelle Walensky, MD, said those most likely to benefit from another booster are those 65 and older and those 50 and older “with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk for severe disease from COVID-19.”
(J. Harris: I advised my grown children and their children to take the 4th booster. Some Norwegians
can be difficult.)
1. Covid and Diabetes, Colliding in a Public Health Train Wreck (New York Times) After older people and nursing home residents, perhaps no group has been harder hit by the pandemic than people with diabetes. Recent studies suggest that 30 to 40 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the United States have occurred among people with diabetes, a sobering figure that has been subsumed by other grim data from a public health disaster that is on track to claim a million American lives sometime this month.
2. Projecting COVID-19 Mortality as States Relax Nonpharmacologic Interventions (JAMA) With the high transmissibility of current circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, the simulated lifting of NPIs in March 2022 was associated with resurgences of COVID-19 deaths in nearly every state. In comparison, delaying by even 1 month to lift NPIs in April 2022 was estimated to mitigate the amplitude of the surge. For most states, however, no amount of delay was estimated to be sufficient to prevent a surge in deaths completely. The primary factor associated with recurrent epidemics in the simulation was the assumed high effective reproduction number of unmitigated viral transmission. With a lower level of transmissibility similar to those of the ancestral strains, the model estimated that most states could remove NPIs in March 2022 and likely not see recurrent surges.
(J. Harris: Good quick world summary.)
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