Alert for false messages about the new Omicron XBB variant circulating on WhatsApp

Alert for false messages about the new Omicron XBB variant circulating on WhatsApp

The Ministry of Health of the Nation warned about the viralization of erroneous information through chains of chats. The new sublineage of COVID-19 is not more deadly or causes different symptoms

In recent days, false information about the new variant of Omicron XBB that alerted about its danger and its alleged greater lethality has gone viral through WhatsApp chains. As in the most dramatic stages of the pandemic, these messages are broadcast without any scientific support and worry those who receive them.

Faced with this scenario, the Ministry of Health of the Nation asked not to consider this erroneous information and always resort through official and reliable sources.

From the national health portfolio directed by Carla Vizzotti they issued the following statement: “The messages that are going viral on WhatsApp about the” new COVID- Ómicron XBB variant are false . We ask society to dismiss this type of chains and to obtain information through our official channels”, indicated the text published through the official Twitter account of the Ministry of Health of the Nation.

The new Ómicron sublineages have been present in Argentina since October, but the information was only released this week when the data from the latest  National Epidemiological Bulletin , corresponding to week number 46 or SE46 (November 13 to 19) were released.

The official text details: “ In SE41, 1 case of Ómicron BQ.1.1 and 1 case of Ómicron XBB.116 were recorded ″. In other words, these two sub-variants of concern were already circulating in Argentina for 5 weeks ago, but they had not appeared in the previous Epidemiological Bulletins of October and November or, more precisely, from October 9 to 15, which is week 41.

The misinformation text advises “everyone to wear a mask because the novel coronavirus variant Covid-omicron XBB is different, deadly, and not easy to detect correctly.”

In addition, it indicates that those infected with this variant do not have a cough or fever, something that infectious disease experts have not pointed out. And add that the new symptoms of these variants would be “joint pain, headache, neck and/or back pain, pneumonia and lack of appetite.” It is important to highlight that there is no scientific evidence on changes in symptoms in infections by the new Ómicron sublineages.

And the most important thing to dismiss is the end of the false message that says “Omicron XBB is five times more virulent than the Delta variant and has a higher mortality rate than it. It takes less time for the condition to reach extreme severity and sometimes there are no obvious symptoms.”

As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), Omicron XBB is a recombinant variant of the BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 sublineages . It began circulating in early October in Singapore and India and quickly spread to 35 countries.

The international health agency detailed that although more studies are needed, the current data “do not suggest that there are substantial differences in disease severity for XBB infections.”

However, he cautioned that there is preliminary evidence pointing to a higher risk of reinfection , compared to other circulating Omicron sublineages. “Cases of reinfection were mainly limited to those with initial infection in the pre-Omicron period,” the WHO said.

It should be noted that the possibility of contracting COVID-19 again for those who have already had the disease does not imply greater severity according to current scientific evidence.

Rachel Maga
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life's biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.