January 27, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Tzanakis: Greece already has a covid HBV.1.5 subvariant, we just haven’t found it yet

Mr Tzanakis notes the WHO warning that there could be an increase in cases of SARS-CoV-2, its dangerous sub-variant HBV.1.5, in Greece.

Scientists are concerned about the most infectious sub-variant of SARS-CoV-2 to date, HBV.1.5, and a severe new wave of coronavirus in China.

Governments are taking preventive measures to combat the Covid-19 outbreak in China, and scientists are monitoring developments as the likelihood of a new SARS-CoV-2 mutation arising from infecting millions of people in China remains in question, says Nikos Tzanakis, professor of pulmonology Faculty of Medicine of Crete

“The outbreak in China worries about the possibility of a new strain of SARS-CoV-2, of course this probability is small, but not zero,” says Mr. Tzanakis, and emphasizes that the focus should be on genomic surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 travelers arriving from China.

In his assessment, testing (rapid antigen test or molecular testing) of all travelers on direct flights from China 48 hours before departure will not do anything, since an initially negative result may later turn into a positive one, i.e. the disease will later manifest itself in a person.

“The ‘zero cases’ tracking tactic implemented by China failed and created the problem that now exists in the country,” the professor notes. Regarding the vaccine proposed by the Chinese side, he says that due to the lack of epidemiological data, hospitalizations, intubations, deaths, it is not yet possible to say what is happening and how effective it is.

Scientists are concerned about a new sub-variant of the Omicron mutation – ChBB.1.5, which is spreading at high speed. It is estimated that due to HBV.1.5, the number of infections in the US is doubling approximately every two weeks. A new sub-variant of Omicron has already been discovered in 29 countries and probably even more exist in reality. “We also have it in Greece, we just haven’t discovered it yet,” Prof. Nikos Tzanakis tells APE-MPE.

The HBV.1.5 strain comes from an HBV mutation that appeared in Singapore and India a few months ago and was later introduced to America. Expert: “HBV.1.5 has immune evasion properties but is also more contagious than any other strain. This mutation belongs to the Omicron family of strains and we expect it to be the same, at least in terms of severity and toxicity, as other mutations that belong to the same family.” The HBV.1.5 strain is currently of concern to the scientific community, since approximately half of the cases in the US are infected with it.

Mr Tzanakis noted the WHO warning that there might be in the coming months we will have an increase in cases of SARS-CoV-2, like in other countries, because of this mutation. He emphasizes that in at risk are people over 65, unvaccinated and with chronic diseases. “I personally strongly recommend to everyone vaccination with the updated vaccine, the use of a mask and the disinfection of hands and surfaces,” he concludes.

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