The Welsh NHS is currently experiencing severe hardship due to a lack of staff, the flu, and Covid. And coronavirus is raising its head significantly again now that China has ended its zero-Covid policy and the virus has swept through large parts of the population.
A new mutation is more likely to appear the more persons who have the virus. Since the virus initially appeared, it has undergone numerous modifications, with the omicron strain, for instance, being significantly more contagious than others.
More than 40% of instances in the US are reportedly due to a new Covid-19 variety, which epidemiology expert Tim Spector called the one “to watch out for” this year. In a week, the number of cases had more than doubled.
First detected in India, the sub-variant known as XBB.1.5 is a mutated version of Omicron, the most contagious variant, which has become the globally dominant strain since it emerged in late 2021. The cold-like symptoms are largely the same as Omicron, and, according to the NHS, can include:
- A high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- An aching body
- A headache
- A sore throat
- A blocked or runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sick or being sick
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it had seen no indication XBB.1.5 was more severe than other strains, but it was concerned by how transmissible it could be, Reuters reports. Mutations happen bit by bit, so major changes in a new variant are unlikely. What XBB.1.5 appears to have is an ability to bind to cells while evading the body’s immune defences, which makes it spread more easily, according to Professor Wendy Barclay from Imperial College London. It already accounts for roughly one in 25 Covid cases in the UK.
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, urged calm, saying: “There is no reason to think that XBB.1.5 is of any more concern than other variants that come and go in the ever-changing landscape of Covid-19 mutants.”