India first noticed this variant again in Might, however it has additionally seen solely sporadic instances, and no main rise in total infections. Like Australia, it’s the XBB household of Omicron variant that proceed to dominate in India, accounting for 90 to 92 per cent of infections.
Given the ancestral variant for EG.5.1 is XBB 1.9, which was Australia’s dominant variant over winter, it’s additionally attainable Australia might need higher inhabitants degree immunity than nations just like the US.
As Australians begin to emerge from winter, with boosted pure immunity and booster vaccination, they might be much less more likely to see this EG.5.1 muscle out different variants. Nevertheless, as immunity wanes, with larger distance because the final wave, they are going to inevitably see an infection charges begin to push up once more – doubtlessly in late spring. EG.5.1 would possibly drive this, or it could possibly be one other variant at present circulating.
COVID-19 IS BECOMING LESS OF A THREAT BUT STILL NEEDS WATCHING
It’s reassuring that the intervals between COVID-19 waves in Australia are rising and the heights of the peaks are diminishing with every successive wave since Omicron arrived.
It’s additionally heartening that rising variants aren’t genetically that totally different, so our immunity, vaccines, testing and therapy are nonetheless efficient in defending us from critical sickness.
Time is our ally. The extra time our immune techniques should mature, the extra they will reply to a variety of variants much better than earlier than. Our antibodies could wane over time, however the pool that’s left represents high quality quite than amount in its capability to focus on many variants.
The virus is altering, with Omicron variants step by step taking on from others. However we have to stay vigilant and hold minimising an infection danger the place we are able to, and monitoring the genomic knowledge so we’re alert to any seismic shift and take be aware if a variant is classed as a variant of concern.
Catherine Bennett is Chair in Epidemiology at Deakin College. Stuart Turville is Affiliate Professor, Immunovirology and Pathogenesis Program at Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney. This commentary first appeared on The Dialog.