Science

CDC is now tracking BN.1, increasing in the latest new COVID version

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now tracking the rise of another COVID-19 variant, known as BN.1, according to data published by the agency this month, the latest new spread across the country this fall. Omicron marks the descendant.

Some 4.3% of new COVID-19 cases nationwide are now linked to the BN.1 version, according to “Nowcast” estimates released by the CDC on Friday.

The spread of the new strain to the west is greatest in the region, spanning Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada. 6.2% of new cases in that area are from HHS Area 9, Bn.1.

The news of the new edition comes as the nationwide pace of new COVID-19 hospitalizations, which had been falling since September, has resumed over the past few weeks.

A CDC official said Saturday in a webinar hosted by the Infectious Disease Society of America that the BN.1 ratio across the country is projected to double roughly every two weeks, though he cautioned that initial estimates are sloppy.

“The uncertainty in that doubling time is slightly higher because the absolute number of sequences is smaller, because the ratio is lower, so there is a much larger confidence interval,” said CDC’s Natalie Thornberg.

Scientists first named the BN.1 strain in September from the descendants of the BA.2.75 variant seen in Europe and Asia.

Some BN.1 strains carry mutations that can result in a “high immune escape,” predicts a tool designed by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center’s Bloom Lab.

All BN.1 strains carry a change called the R346T substitution, which Thornberg said “we see in a lot of circulating viruses right now.” This mutation in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 could thwart a key drug used to protect people with weakened immune systems.

BQ.1, BQ.1.1, and XBB

BN.1 joins the crowded field of emerging Omicron type descendants that have proliferated in recent months, BA.5 Edition Which dominated matters in the summer.

BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 Variants Recent new strains are the most prevalent. According to CDC estimates, nearly half of infections nationwide are from one in two.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the top White House COVID-19 official, told CBS, “Our best guess is that it’s doubling every 10 days. So if you do the math, the number of BQ.1.1 going into effect over the next months.” is likely to.” News in an interview last month.

Another variant that was closely watched overseas – XBB – has not yet reached sufficient levels in the US to be listed as a standalone strain. Thornberg said Saturday that the CDC still estimated XBB to be less than 1% nationwide.

However, the CDC’s differing monitoring in international airports has so far seen an increasing number of XBBs in arriving passengers: 13% of the samples were from XBB as of the end of October, 30.4% were from BQ.1 or BQ.1.1, and none Not from BN. 1.

Findings announced by Moderna on Monday from its updated COVID-19 booster shot suggest that the new vaccine may still provide at least some protection against BQ.1.1.

In Saturday’s webinar, Thornberg said the CDC is also working on releasing new real-world data “very soon” on the effectiveness of bivalent shots against current strains so far.

But the rise of new strains threatens other key tools used to treat and prevent COVID, especially for more vulnerable Americans.

The National Institutes of Health’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel warned last week that the new variant may evade certain COVID-19 treatments such as Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody, bebetalovimab, from physicians in those areas. Urged to stop using the drug in the U.S. where these strains were predominant.

This now includes the New York and New Jersey areas, where the CDC estimates that BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 now make up the majority of infections.

The panel warned that the rise of these and other aggressive Omicron variants also threatens the protection offered by AstraZeneca’s Evushield, a key tool used to protect immunocompromised Americans.

Jha said it could take up to six months for companies to develop new versions of their drugs to compete with the latest variants. He accused Congress of not funding, which could have subsidized the active development of the new formulation.

“I can’t say that I will pay for it through the US government, because we don’t have the money and they know it,” Jha said.

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