New COVID-19 variant drives virus surge in France, says immunologist


PARIS, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- The BQ.1.1 subvariant of COVID-19 is currently taking precedence over the BA.5 subvariant in France, immunologist Brigitte Autran, president of the Committee for Monitoring and Anticipating Health Risks (COVARS), told the news channel BFMTV on Wednesday.

The latest resurgence of COVID-19, according to her, is the "beginning of a wave," even though the increase in the number of cases is "not significant yet."

"The trend is not good, it is up" because of the subvariant of the virus, she said.

BA.5, the subvariant of the original Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 that has been prevalent in France, "has already been replaced, swept away by the BQ.1.1 subvariant, which is the baby of BA.5," she explained.

"This variant is more contagious and it explains the current surge in the number of new cases," she noted.

Autran said that the BQ.1.1 subvariant is currently being observed all over the world. "We do not yet know if it is meaner," but it is understood to be more contagious, and therefore it is absolutely necessary to get protected and vaccinated.

She called on the eligible population to get booster shots, arguing that "vaccines guarantee protection against severe forms of COVID and against death."

She also reiterated the need to respect barrier measures, including wearing masks, at least on public transport and in crowded spaces.

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