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XBB subvariant: Expert warns of new wave as COVID-19 surge

Tempo - October 26, 2022

Maria Fransisca Lahur, Jakarta Indonesia has recently seen a spike in COVID-19 cases. On October 25, 2022, the authority detected 3,000 new cases, which was doubled from the day before of 1,700 cases. At the same time, vaccine stocks are running low.

In Jakarta, only five health facilities have vaccine stocks as of October 25. They are in Gambir District Health Center, Kelapa Gading District Health Center, Kramat Jati Health Center, Jatinegara Health Center, and the Vaccination Center at LRT Station of Pegangsaan Dua.

On this basis, Tjandra Yoga Aditama, a professor at the University of Indonesia's Faculty of Medicine (FKUI), emphasized the importance of vaccination. "Yesterday, there were more than 3,000 cases, while previously there were 1,700 and 1,600 cases. So it almost doubled. Vaccination is obviously necessary," he said via a text message, Wednesday, October 26, 2022.

Based on Our World in Data today, Tjandra added, almost 40 percent of Indonesian people have not been fully vaccinated. "It may be possible to provide a bivalent vaccine to protect against early variants and Omicron variants," he suggested.

He also lamented that the booster vaccination coverage in the country remains low. "Even though we know the full protective effect of vaccination."

Latest COVID-19 situation with the emergence of XBB variant

Tjandra said that if the case surge is caused by the XBB subvariant, it would confirm that the virus subvariant is more easily transmitted. "And also, XBB can easily avoid our immune system, the most antibody-evasive SARS-CoV-2 variant," he added.

He claimed his statement was similar to what conveyed by the WHO lead scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, that several countries could experience a new COVID wave due to the XBB subvariant, which is a recombinant of the BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 subvariants with 14 additional mutations to the BA.2 spike protein.

At least 26 countries have reported this COVID-19 virus subvariant, including Indonesia. If this cannot be handled properly, Tjandra opined that it could lead to a further hike in cases and the new wave.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1649588/xbb-subvariant-expert-warns-of-new-wave-as-covid-19-surg