‘Kraken’ Omicron variant now runs neck and neck with ‘Cerberus’ in US, per CDC data Friday

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped shocking data on Friday that put a damper on the rise of the new COVID variant XBB.1.5, the so-called Kraken—and left it jockeying for dominance. of the competitor BQ.1.1, known as Cerberus. Experts maintain that the Kraken variant will continue its rise, however, and that Friday’s data is a statistical blip.

Last week, the CDC projected that XBB.1.5 covers about 40% of cases in the US With a doubling time of about nine days, according to the CDC’s European counterpart, many expect it to reach the dominance in the US when the CDC updated it. weekly COVID forecast on Friday. But the numbers have shifted. On Friday, the CDC retroactively revised the numbers, which prevented the rapid rise of the Kraken. It is now estimated that the new variant will account for about 18% of cases this week—and about 28% of cases in the coming week.

The CDC did not immediately respond luckof request for the reason behind the change. But a large set of viral COVID sequences from outside the northeastern US was recently uploaded, photo-edited, variant tracker Dr. Raj Rajnarayanan, assistant dean of research and associate professor at the New York Institute of Technology campus in Jonesboro, Ark., said Good luck.

XBB.1.5 is responsible for the lion’s share of cases in the northeast, but BQ variants still dominate the rest of the country, according to CDC data. Given that the Northeast in general, and New York in particular, has topped the nation’s COVID trends since the start of the pandemic, Rajnarayanan expects XBB.1.5 to still beat BQ.1.1 in the US, in the end.

So is Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research and founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. The tempered forecast leaves “a lot of runway before this variant achieves dominance across the country,” he said in a tweet on Friday.

XBB.1.5 has the potential to cause a global wave like the Omicron BA.5 it did this summer—but not as big as last winter’s global Omicron BA.1 wave, which was the world’s largest that is yet to be seen, Rajnarayanan said. A new one study by Dr. Yunlong Cao of Peking University in Beijing and other Chinese researchers made the same assertionsaying that XBB.1.5 is “highly likely” to eventually engulf the world.

Last fall, leading US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci labeled the BQ family of COVID variants “a bit of a nuisance” as they continue their ascent in the US, defeating a wave of BA.5 that surged last summer.

The XBB and BQ variants are among the most immune-evasive seen so far, experts say. And as many predicted, it is now theirs for US dominance.

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