As the world enters a new year, many public health and infectious disease experts predict that monitoring for new coronavirus variants will be an increasingly important part of Covid-19 mitigation efforts – and some are turning their attention to a surge in cases in China.
Subvariants of the Omicron coronavirus variant continue to circulate globally, and “we’re seeing Omicron do what viruses do, which is it picks up mutations along the way that helps it evade a little bit of immunity that’s induced by previous infection or vaccination,” said Andrew Pekosz, a microbiologist and immunologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
“We haven’t seen any major jumps in terms of Omicron evolution in some time,” he said. But “it’s getting to that stage where it’s something that we have to continue to monitor.”
In the United States, the Omicron subvariants XBB.1.5, BQ.1.1, BQ.1, BA.5 and XBB are causing almost all Covid-19 infections, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For this week, the CDC estimates that XBB