New COVID-19 wave to hit Europe ‘in coming week’, warns watchdog

New COVID-19 wave to hit Europe ‘in coming week’, warns watchdog

This week, the World Health Organisation said that BQ.1.1 subvariant is circulating in at least 29 countries.

A new wave of COVID-19 infection is expected to hit Europe “within a week”, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has warned, adding that new variants of the virus are evolving faster than the ability to supply adaptive vaccines, which are still in the early stages of the development.

At a press conference in The Netherlands on Wednesday, the EU drug watchdog asserted that the pandemic was still not over as new mutations continue to surface.

"Last week one of these new Omicron variants that is called BQ.1 has been identified in at least five countries in the European Union and European Economic Area," said Dr Marco Cavaleri, Head of Health Threats and Vaccines Strategy, according to AFP news agency.

"According to the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) BQ.1 and each sub-lineage, which is called BQ.1.1 will become the dominant strains by mid-November to the beginning of December."

Since the influenza virus and Covid will be circulating simultaneously this winter, European health officials have asked people in high-risk groups to be vaccinated against both.

The EMA, however, struck a positive note in the end when it clarified that the current vaccines are still effective.

The warning comes in the wake of BQ.1 and closely related BQ.1.1 subvariants of Omicron driving up cases across Europe and the United States.

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This week, the World Health Organisation said that BQ.1.1 subvariant is circulating in at least 29 countries.

The US CDC said on Friday that BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 were estimated to make up 9.4 per cent of circulating variants last week.

The officials have warned that the new variant is capable of evading some immune protections, citing laboratory studies in Asia, but added that there is no evidence yet that BQ.1 is linked with increased severity.

New COVID-19 wave to hit Europe ‘in coming week’, warns watchdog
Covid variant Omicron BQ.1 strain, dominant in US, now found in India

This week, the World Health Organisation said that BQ.1.1 subvariant is circulating in at least 29 countries.

The US CDC said on Friday that BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 were estimated to make up 9.4 per cent of circulating variants last week.

The officials have warned that the new variant is capable of evading some immune protections, citing laboratory studies in Asia, but added that there is no evidence yet that BQ.1 is linked with increased severity.

"These variants (BQ.1 and BQ.1.1) can quite possibly lead to a very bad surge of illness this winter in the U.S. as it's already starting to happen in Europe and the UK," Gregory Poland, a virologist and vaccine researcher at Mayo Clinic, told Reuters news agency.

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