Resistant and contagious BQ.1 sub-variant hits Thailand

PHOTO: The BQ.1 sub-variant of Covid-19 was just found in Thailand and expected to spread rapidly. (Via Unsplash)

As new strains of Covid are beginning to crop up in Thailand, the first infection of the highly resistant and contagious BQ.1 sub-variant has now been found in the kingdom. Ramathibodi Hospital’s Centre for Medical Genomics confirmed the presence of the sub-variant of the Omicron strain, which mutated from the BA.5 sub-variant.

In a post on Facebook, the centre cited authorities worldwide warning of a potential outbreak of this strain of Covid that is resistant to immunity. They shared information from the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data and said that in the United States the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have issued outbreak alerts for both BQ.1 and BQ.1.1.

The BQ.1 sub-variant now makes up 10% of all infections in the US, and it’s now been identified in Thailand. This new strain is particularly troublesome because it has a rapid doubling time, meaning that it spreads remarkably quickly. The strain also can evade many of the available prevention methods like vaccines and immunity, according to US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases head Anthony Fauci.

Scientist say that the antibodies created by having and recovering from another strain of the coronavirus may not be antibodies that can fight the BQ.1 sub-variant.

The antibody medications that are often employed to treat those infected with Covid may not be effective against these new strains. But there may be hope in a newer round of vaccines and antibody medications. Second-generation vaccines may battle the increase in viral load with better antibodies. If someone was vaccinated against BQ.1’s parent strain BA.5, that vaccine is likely more effective than an original immunisation. And a second-generation cocktail of antibody medication could help treat BQ.1 infections.

Thailand’s Centre for Medical Genomics is expecting that by the end of the year BQ.1 will overtake BA.5 as the dominant Covid strain in the country. The sub-variant spreads about 14% to 15% faster than the BA.2 and BA.5.2 strains. But there’s not yet full data on how it will affect death tolls or how severe infections may be.

Another Covid strain of concern, the XBB sub-variant, was confirmed in two people in Thailand so far. One was a 49 year old Thai woman coming back from Singapore while the other was a 60 year old foreign woman who had travelled from Hong Kong. Both had mild symptoms and were identified after an examination at the same hospital.

Covid-19 NewsThailand News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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