New immune-evasive Omicron strains are coming. Is Canada ready? – CBC

Subvariants could further strain Canada’s struggling health-care system as flu returns

Oct 22, 2022

Canada is heading into a potentially brutal winter as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise, Omicron continues to rapidly mutate and booster uptake remains stagnant — all at a time when flu season is returning and the health-care system is already under intense pressure.

COVID-related hospitalizations are currently higher than any previous fall in the pandemic, nearly double last October and almost four times more than in 2020.

And new Omicron subvariants that have been shown to better evade immunity and potentially drive new COVID waves are gaining ground, with more than 300 Omicron subvariants being tracked by the World Health Organization worldwide.​​

“All of the subvariants of Omicron are showing increased transmissibility and properties of immune escape,” the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said during a news conference Thursday, adding that subvariants XBB and BQ.1.1 have shown “significant immune evasion.”

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