Canada COVID19-Hospitalization plateaus high as XBB 1.5 hits

In mitigation efforts that may well be too late, passengers arriving in Canada on flights coming from China, Hong Kong and Macao will need a negative COVID-19 test result as of Thursday according to Canadian health authorities.

“Canada is in part singing with the anti-China choir complaining about China’s lack of statistical epidemiological data but in fact, Canada has a serious problem and needs to take action greater than this because for each surge in cases, Canada’s hospitals which on an average day have far too few urgent-care beds anyway, are taxed beyond limits,” explained Dr. Kathy Poon, a biostatistician with the Civil Society Solidarity Partners against COVID-19 team.

Health care in Quebec for example, according to elderly patients there, is without routine care and diagnostics for seniors. A straw poll of hospitals indicates that the wait list for even urinalysis and glucose testing is over six months. A diabetic patient in that time could die waiting,” said one angry, elderly gentleman interviewed.

You are alone in a fight against a massively spreading disease if you don’t share your data with at least the science community,” said biostatisticians in Singapore where XBB is raging, and doctors are critical of China’s hesitancy to release its epidemiological data on the current massive outbreak in hat country.

XBB 1.5 is here.

Art: Rosa Yamamoto / Feminine-Perspective-Magazine

“Fact sharing [in China] with the scientific community has gone by the wayside and that is skewing the global numbers in a bad way say biostatisticians who are being relied upon to furnish data used to anticipate the needs for medical and pharmacological solutions.”[1]

COVID-19 Hospitalizations in Canada Have Plateaued too high

Graph of Canadian Hospitalizations courtesy Civil Society Solidarity Partners against COVID-19 team.

In October 2022, FPMag reported XBB-related Findings of the  Civil Society Solidarity Partners against COVID-19

According to regional data, the Canadian province of Quebec was seeing the BQ.1 and the BQ.1.1 and also Ontario has likely seen these variants in significant numbers, not just a handful of cases, in October/November 2022,” said Dr. Fred Harris, team leader of the CSPAC biostatistical group in Singapore.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control at the end of October showed that two variants—BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 were accounting for nearly 20 percent of bio-samples genetically sequenced in the USA. That was a huge increase over a month earlier when the variants were non-existent with BA.5 and BA.4.6 being the most visible strains in the USA,” said the biostatistician. “Now the latter two strains are declining fast.”

Today, an estimated 40% of new cases in North America are XBB

According to the World Health Organization, “‘the Omicron variant of concern’ remains the dominant variant circulating globally, accounting for nearly all sequences reported to GISAID. While we are looking at a vast genetic diversity of Omicron sublineages, they currently display similar clinical outcomes, but with differences in immune escape potential.”

“A new variant called XBB 1.5 had been seen in a wave through Australia and Southeast Asia. It was not exactly taking over but launching a new wave. XBB is a “recombinant”, the result of two different Omicron subvariants, Centaurus and BA.2.10.1 sharing elements. The combination is a marked improvement for its transmissibility. Compared to BQ.1.1 and BQ.1, we see many spike-protein changes that XBB have in common with the former two strains,” said the CSPAC boss.

By early December 2022, the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant XBB sublineage, a BA.2.10.1–BA.2.75 recombinant classified as variant under monitoring by WHO, has been found in 35 countries, and has become the dominant strain in Singapore. There is early evidence suggesting that XBB might be associated with a higher risk of reinfection. A previous study using a pseudo virus neutralization test and sera from individuals who received CoronaVac (Sinovac) found that XBB is the most immunoevasive sublineage. (Citing: Cao Y, Jian F, Wang J et al. Imprinted ‘SARS-CoV-2 humoral immunity induces convergent Omicron RBD evolution’.  bioRxiv. 2022; (published online Oct 30.) Google Scholar).

According to a report in the Lancet, all vaccination subgroups in a series of studies with different history of vaccination or infection had a statistically significantly lower geometric mean 50% neutralizing antibody titre against XBB.1 or XBB.3 than those against the ancestral strain. In short that means that the XBB variants seem to have a better chance of escaping vaccine immunity.

In another study, in late 2022, the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants were seen to be  highly diversified, and XBB was spreading rapidly around the world. Phylogenetic analyses suggested that XBB emerged by recombination of two co-circulating BA.2 lineages, BJ.1 and BM.1.1.1 (a progeny of BA.2.75), during the summer of 2022 around India.  (Citing “Virological characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 XBB variant derived from recombination of two Omicron subvariants“.)

All the evidence suggests, “XBB strains can evade protective immune antibodies much more efficiently than the ancestral or BA.5.2 strains, irrespective of whether the antibodies were elicited by prior infection or vaccination with either the Pfizer or CoronaVac vaccines.”