First case of the XBB.1.5 variant of the coronavirus is identified in the interior of SP


The first case of the XBB.1.5 variant of the coronavirus, considered the most transmissible so far by the WHO (World Health Organization), was identified in a sample of the virus in São Paulo.

The sample, which was collected on November 9 from a 54-year-old patient in Indaiatuba (103 kilometers from the capital), was sequenced by the Dasa Integrated Health Network this Wednesday (4).

It was the only case identified out of a total of 1,330 samples sequenced in the month of November, of which 33 were from the XBB subline of omicron.

According to José Eduardo Levi, virologist responsible for the network’s genomic surveillance project, despite being the only case identified, it is likely that it has already spread in the state. “The sample was collected in November and now we can only identify it, so it is likely that there is already an increase because the circulation [das variantes] changes very quickly with these omicron underlines.”

Dasa said it had already communicated the identification of the strain to the São Paulo State Health Department. Levi said that the laboratory has a test that helps to identify some lineages of omicron through a technique that investigates genes of the S protein (used by the virus to enter cells) that, in these variants, have suffered deletion.

“Before, we had a correlation of 100% of the samples with this alteration confirmed later in the genomic sequencing as being BA.5 [variante que possui essa alteração]. The XBB, on the other hand, does not have this change, and we saw that 20% to 30% of the samples from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in December did not show any change “, he said.

Also according to the virologist, there was no significant increase in the rate of positive results or in the total number of tests carried out in the last week, but that this could change in the next two weeks, when the cases dammed up by the end of the year may arise.

XBB.1.5 is a variant formed by combining two subscores of BA.2. It carries a mutation that makes its connection with human cells much more efficient, making replication faster. Therefore, its presence in places such as the United States is already dominant compared to other less transmissible strains (more than 40% of the samples are XBB.1.5).

According to the WHO, it has already been identified in 29 countries, but it is likely that data is underreported due to the difficulty in sequencing and the drop in testing worldwide.

Last Wednesday (4), the epidemiologist and head of the entity’s Covid group, Maria van Kerkhove, said that XBB.1.5 lights an alert for the possibility of a new global wave.

“The more this variant is circular, the more opportunities it will have to change, and with that we expect new waves of infection around the world, although we still have no indication about the potential severity or clinical picture”, he said.

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