Cases of Omicron subvariants are on the rise in Alberta, expert says | Coronavirus

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Cases of Omicron subvariants on the rise in Alberta, expert says | Coronavirus

Daniel Gregson, an infectious disease physician in Calgary, thinks mask-wearing measures may need to be revisited, if transmission increases significantly in the province (archives).

According to a modeling expert, new subvariants of Omicron, from the BQ family, have been identified in Alberta, which could lead to a new wave of COVID-19 in the province, given the rapidity of progression of these sub-variants.

The global GISAID database shows that more than 60 cases of transmission attributed to subvariants of the BQ family have been identified by genetic sequencing in Alberta. These data, however, are delayed by several weeks, because the sequencing carried out by the provincial laboratory takes time.

We are on the verge of a new wave, says Sally Otto, biologist and teacher at the University of British Columbia. According to her, there is an offshoot of Omicron subvariants around the world with similar mutations that allow the SARS-CoV-2 virus to evade the immune system and infect cells.

However, it is the subvariants of the BQ family, including BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, that are of primary concern to her at the moment, as they allow for higher transmissibility and immune evasion.

Sally Otto, who is also a member of an independent COVID-19 modeling group in British Columbia, estimates that 20% of COVID-19 cases are related to -BQ variants in Alberta.

If that's doubling every week or every two weeks, it won't be many weeks before those make up half of the viruses in Alberta, she says.

The x27;expert says, however, that she does not expect cases to explode as they have in previous waves, although the trajectory of the subvariants is difficult to predict.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently urged health authorities to closely monitor BQ.1 due to its high transmissibility.

Daniel Gregson, an associate professor at the University of Calgary and an infectious disease physician, also doesn't rule out a new wave, given the proliferation of SARS-CoV-2 subvariants and mutations. .

Dr. Gregson therefore calls on the people of Alberta to get vaccinated and take the booster doses to which they are entitled. It also encourages health authorities to monitor data from wastewater.

The best you can do is keep your vaccinations up to date. If you're at higher risk, reduce your number of contacts, and when you're in crowded places, wear a mask, he advises.

While Premier Danielle Smith has repeatedly voiced her opposition to public health measures against COVID-19, Dr. Gregson thinks there may be a need to revise the rules around mask-wearing, which doesn't x27;is no longer mandatory, should transmission increase significantly in the province.

Wearing a mask on public transport [and] in public places could be a means of reduce the burden of disease in the community, he said.

Kerry Williamson, spokesperson for Alberta Health Services, said in a statement that the provincial lab is performing genetic sequencing of subvariants to identify those of greatest concern. He also claimed that XBB, identified by the WHO as a subvariant to be monitored, is currently being monitored by the provincial laboratory.

Three cases of this subvariant have already been sequenced in Alberta, according to the GISAID database. However, according to Sally Otto, this subvariant does not appear to be growing as rapidly in Canada.

With information from Jennifer Lee

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