XBB.1.5, CH.1.1 And CA.3.1 Variants Have Increased Fusogenicity Over BA.2, Pfizer Reports Record SalesFrequent Business Traveler

February 1, 2023

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Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,026th day of the pandemic.

Researchers including myself are continually worried that new Covid variants and subvariants will present major challenges to current vaccination strategies.

A frightening new study that came out recently reported that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 Omicron XBB.1.5, CA.3.1, and CH.1.1 sublineages exhibit remarkable antibody resistance.

The research was conducted by scientists at Ohio State University and posted to the bioRxiv preprint server.  As such, it has not yet been subjected to peer review.

It examined the degree of neutralizing antibody evasion and evaluated the spike protein biology of the three subvariants.

A neutralizing antibody, often referred to as a Nab, is an antibody that is responsible for defending cells from pathogens, which are organisms that cause disease. They are produced naturally by the body as part of its immune response, and their production is triggered by both infections and vaccinations against infections.

The findings from the study at Ohio University suggest that the new variants have more fusogenicity than, for example, the BA.2 subvariant, something that can translate into more severe disease in those infected with the virus.

In addition, these sublineages are more resistant to the current bivalent as well as the earlier monovalent coronavirus vaccines.

The researchers’ findings demonstrated a near complete escape from neutralizing antibodies that had been simulated by three doses of monovalent coronavirus vaccine, but neutralization was rescued by a bivalent booster dose.  However, the sublineages CH.1.1 and CA.3.1 were found to be highly resistant to both monovalent and bivalent mRNA vaccines.

In other news we cover today, China said there has been no surge in new cases after a dramatic increase in travel during the lunar new year and Pfizer said 2023 sales will be down up to 33% compared to a record-breaking 2022.


A Welsh doctor who said that vaccines were “irrelevant” and that SARS-CoV-2 patients should take high doses of vitamins, as well as substances that could cause “serious harm,” has lost her certification to practice medicine.  Dr Sarah Myhill has had her medical license suspended for nine months for “undermining public health.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese government is claiming that the current surge in Covid cases is coming to an end, although its figures cannot be independently verified. Officials there said that, despite the dramatic increase in travel for the lunar new year, there had been no sign of a new surge in cases compared to last year’s figures.


Drugmaker Pfizer said that it expects 2023 sales to decline by as much as 33% compared with a record-breaking 2022. The pharmaceutical company booked $100.3 billion in revenue for calendar year 2022, an all-time high.


Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, January 31.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 675.1 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.2 million cases, and 6.76 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 647.5 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.3 million.

The reader should note that infrequent reporting from some sources may appear as spikes in new case figures or death tolls.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday at press time is 20,889,046 , a decrease of 77,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 20,846,916, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 42,130, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 30,449 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 4,424 on Monday, 2,200 on Sunday, 14,171 on Saturday, 31,731 on Friday, and 113,283 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 39,307.  Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 45,791, a figure down 23% over the past 14 days, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 506, a decrease of 10% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 32,823, a decrease of 22%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 4,173, a decrease of 21% and the test positivity rate is now 11%, a 10% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded 104.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.13 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,740.

The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States.  Rosstat reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.

Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with 39.5 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with just under 37.8 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 696,892, has recorded 36.8 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are Japan, with 32.5 million cases, South Korea, with 30.2 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with over 25.4 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.3 million, and Russia, with over 21.9 million.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of last Thursday, 268.9 million people in the United States – or 81% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.2%, or 229.6 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 668.8 million. Breaking this down further, 91.9% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.9% of the same group – or 203.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 18.8% of the same population, or over 48.6 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine.

Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 69.4% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Tuesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 13.26 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 1.19 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 26.4% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 75% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal – have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain at or below 10%.

In addition, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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