Experts agree that the picture of the flagship variant is changing in Quebec, but remains in the “Omicron family” for now, hoping that transmission will remain stable. If the situation shows a declining trend in the number of cases, it will be necessary to ensure close monitoring of virus strains in the coming months.
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“I don’t think we need to worry too much. There is a good chance that these new subvariants will not cause major changes,” explains virologist Benot Barbeau, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). , “They will probably remain at the same level of virulence.”
If BA.2 remains the main subpopulation circulating in Quebec, representing slightly more than one in three cases, strains of the virus coming from it are taking up more and more space in the province, new data shows. . National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ). According to INSPQ data, BA.2.12.1, BA.2.3 and BA.2.9 – the new strains originating from BA.2 – now represent half the cases in Quebec (51%).
For Mr. Barbeau, these new strains don’t show particularly worrying signs. “For example, we will not see the changes as strong as what we saw between BA.1 and BA.2. It could be more subtle,” he noted.
However, we should always be humble. Quebec has a trajectory that is going in the right direction, but the surprising thing is that it can always happen with this virus. And it can come in some other way that would have developed independently of the others.
Benoit Barbeau, virologist and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UQAM
“But at this point in time, the situation is really around the world with a very specific Omicron base,” explains the expert.
BA.2 made its appearance in Quebec at the end of January, but in March it became the main broadcast in the province. His arrival helped fuel the sixth wave, which has affected Quebec in recent weeks.
For Alex Carrigan, microbiologist-infectiologist, epidemiologist and professor at the University of Sherbrooke, these new variants prove that the COVID-19 virus is constantly mutating and “it will always continue to do so”. But there’s no need to worry, he says.
The situation becomes worrisome when a variant has the potential to replace a major variant, according to their statements. “If we see, for example, in South Africa, the BA.2 variant has been replaced by BA.4 and BA.5, then these, in these cases, are the variants that deserve to be ‘watched’, they tell .
In the United States, a slight rebound in infections seems to be linked to BA.2.12.1, Mr. Carrigan says. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to rebound in Quebec either,” he said. Indeed, that time of year can be beneficial to us. “Usually, in the months of May and June, the conditions are less favorable for the virus. “But since it seems to have increased transmission efficiency compared to the BA.2 version, it still has to be monitored, concludes the expert.
- The pace of vaccination campaign is slowing down. Quebec delivers an average of 19,000 doses per day, which is 23% less than a week. To date, 83.3% of Quebecers have received two doses, but only 51.7% have received three, and 10.9%, four.
Source: Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS)
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