The new strains of covid that experts have been warning about have already been detected in several countries abroad and are likely to appear in Greece soon.
In particular, ten cases were identified with sub-variant BQ.1 and five with sub-variant ΒQ.1.1 (sub-variants BA.5), and 35 were identified as sub-variant BA.2 (BA.2.75), also known as “Centaur” (” Κένταυρος”). A total of 66 strains with subvariant BA.2.75 have been identified so far.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, BQ.1 and BQ1.1 are expected to become the predominant strains of the virus in EU and the European Economic Area in mid-November and early December 2022. This could lead to an increase in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks, according to new epidemiological data released on Friday by the ECDC.
Laboratory studies in Asia show that BQ.1 has the ability to “dodge” vaccines and “bypass” immunity developed to covid.
However, based on the available preliminary data, there is no evidence that BQ.1 is associated with a higher risk of severe disease compared to subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of the Omicron strain.
As ECDC points out, increasing vaccination coverage with both primary and booster doses in populations that have not yet been vaccinated remains a priority.
It is also expected that additional booster doses will be required for vulnerable people (the elderly, those with chronic diseases, etc.) with an increased risk of severe disease.