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Surge Alert: LB.1 Variant Rises, CDC Warns of Possible Summer COVID Wave

United States is on high alert as the LB.1 variant

United States: The spread associated with the LB.1 variant of COVID-19 has been accelerating across the United States, which may possibly result in summer’s wave. However, the severity of the variant has not been examined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

According to the reports, as of now, around 17.5 percent of the new COVID cases are due to LB.1, and there is a high chance that it will overtake the KP.3 variant – which has also grown in recent weeks.

While addressing the concern, CDC spokesperson – David Daigle stated, “There is currently no evidence that KP.3 or LB.1 cause more severe disease. CDC will continue to track SARS-CoV-2 variants and is working to better understand the potential impact on public health,” according to CBS News.

The intricacies behind the potential alterations in the manifestations or gravity of maladies instigated by novel variants are multifaceted, influenced by individuals’ inherent immunity stemming from a confluence of antecedent infections and inoculations, alongside the virus’s own mutations.

Historically, the CDC has proclaimed its vigilant surveillance of the impacts wrought by emergent strains, predominantly relying on empirical data and analyses derived from medical institutions, juxtaposing trends from regions where nascent variants initially proliferated.

Presently, a mere fraction of establishments continue to submit hospitalization and ICU admission statistics to the CDC, following the cessation of a pandemic-era mandate earlier this annum. A proposition by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to integrate this data submission into standard requisites is not slated for implementation until October.

Consequently, the agency has resorted to alternative sources, such as a consortium of hospitals that persist in reporting comprehensive patient data to the agency, as well as emergency department visits, to monitor the virus’s trajectory, CBS News reported.

Where is LB.1 Ascending Most Rapidly?

In California, one of the earliest states to observe a surge in viral trends this summer, wastewater metrics escalated to “high” levels, with the CDC’s COVID-19 data indicating hospitalizations approaching figures not witnessed since February.

Recent emergency room data from California corroborates a rise in COVID-19 patient rates, reaching levels unprecedented since February.

However, the KP.3 variant — not LB.1 — constituted the majority of cases during the initial surge, as estimated by the CDC and California’s health department.

As of June 8, a mere 7.8% of cases in HHS Region 9, encompassing California and other western states, were attributed to the LB.1 variant.

Conversely, LB.1’s dominance appears more pronounced in HHS Region 2, encompassing New York and New Jersey, with 30.9% of cases ascribed to LB.1 by June 8.

Distinctions of LB.1

Compared to the highly mutated SARS-CoV-2 variants that emerged earlier in the pandemic, experts assert that LB.1’s modifications are relatively minor compared to its progenitor, the JN.1 variant, which was prevalent during the previous winter’s wave, as per CBS News.

LB.1 is also closely allied with KP.3, another descendant of the JN.1 variant. Unlike KP.3, LB.1 harbors a pivotal mutation designated S:S31del, which appears to facilitate its accelerated dissemination.

Research conducted by scientists in Japan this month, published as a preprint pending peer review, revealed that this mutation may enhance infectivity and immune evasion capabilities.

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