This Morning: Dr Zoe talks about new Covid variant XBB1.5
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The super-transmissible Covid variant may spread almost 40 percent faster than its predecessors, suggesting it may soon take over the country and the most dominant form of the virus. Experts have warned a surge in positive cases is already apparent since the variant’s emergence. The main concern is that this could lead to longer-lasting symptoms among the infected population, lasting more than two years in some cases.
Despite being on course to predominate the country, Kraken is not yet labelled a variant of concern by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has, however, warned it may have a growth advantage.
But there is still insufficient evidence it will be more harmful than previous sub-variants.
Epidemiologists believe the latest strain is the result of two different strains of BA2 Omicron sub-variants combining.
These recombinant sub-variants are believed to emerge when a person catches two different strains of Covid at the same time.
US epidemiologists have warned this could make the variant more immune evasive and better at infecting than previous strains.
By driving up the number of new coronavirus cases, the variant may also increase the prevalence of Long Covid, experts have warned.
Doctor Quinton Fivelman, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, explained: “The latest ONS report on the prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus infection makes stark reading.
“2.1 million Brits are now suffering from long Covid, and 30 percent of those have now been battling these symptoms for over two years.
“We are looking at a chronic condition that we could term ‘Longer Covid’.”
The latest Government Bulletin shows that 30 percent of people with long Covid symptoms have continued to feel sick for two years after their infection.
What’s more, the rate of Long Covid cases is also on the rise since the arrival of the late Kraken strain, testing experts have warned.
Doctor Fivelman added: “Long Covid continued to ruin lives. 1.6 million people in the UK say it adversely impacts on their day-to-day activities.
“Fatigue continues to be the most common self-reported symptom of long Covid (71 percent), followed by difficulty concentrating (49 percent), shortness of breath (47 percent) and muscle ache (46 percent).”
He continued: “The growing number of people suffering from ‘Longer Covid’ shouldn’t mask the fact that many brand-new cases of long Covid are still being reported.
“It’s quite wrong to believe long Covid was mainly caused by earlier variants of the virus and that new cases of the supposedly ‘milder’ Omicron variants don’t trigger long Covid symptoms.”
Experts have also expressed concern that new Covid cases emanating from China may prove resistant to current immune defences provided by the vaccine.
The UKHSA has responded to this threat by calling for expedited sequencing, which involves rapid testing to detect which Covid variants are responsible for new positive Covid cases arriving from China.
The health body warned that a lack of timely data from China is currently limiting the understanding of the nation’s variant profile.
This is making it difficult to categorically assess the public risk of emerging variants to the UK public.
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