Caution Grows over New Omicron Variants

Society Lifestyle

Tokyo, Nov. 21 (Jiji Press)--Caution is growing in Japan over new omicron variants in the face of an eighth wave of coronavirus infections.

The XBB and BQ.1 variants, both of which are spreading abroad after being first reported in September, are seen having high immune evasion. It is not known, however, whether they are more toxic than the BA. 5, the current mainstay lineage, experts say.

According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, the XBB, a hybrid between two subvariants of the BA.2, is spreading chiefly in Singapore and the BQ.1, a BA.5 subvariant, is surging in Europe and the United States.

Infections with the XBB and the BQ.1 in Japan are estimated to have accounted for 30 pct and 16 pct, respectively, of new coronavirus cases in the week to Sunday, each up from less than 10 pct in the third week of October.

NIID Chief Takaji Wakita, head of the health ministry's COVID-19 panel, told a press conference Thursday that several omicron variants could exist concurrently and spread.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press