Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has referred to a new sub-variant of the corona virus that has led to an increase in hospital admissions in the north-east of the USA. “We monitor whether and how strong XBB.1.5. in Germany," said Lauterbach on Twitter on Wednesday evening. "Hopefully we can get through the winter before such a variant can spread to us."
XBB.1.5 is a subvariant of Omicron that is currently spreading widely in the US. So far, it has been detected in 29 countries, including Europe. According to Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO program to combat the corona pandemic, it is the "most contagious subvariant discovered to date".
So far, however, there are no signs that XBB.1.5 causes more severe diseases than other virus variants. The increase in XBB.1.5 cases makes it clear how important it is "to continue to monitor Covid-19 worldwide," said Van Kerkhove in Geneva on Wednesday.
According to the available gene analyzes of the virus, the variant is spreading mainly in the USA and Europe. It is a subset of the omicron variant that has been circulating since late 2021. A risk analysis is in progress and will be published shortly, said van Kerkhove.
The US health agency CDC estimated earlier this year that XBB.1.5 accounted for around 40.5 percent of all new infections in the US in the week before the turn of the year. "In recent weeks, reports of hospitalizations and pressure on health systems have mounted, particularly in regions in the northern hemisphere, where respiratory diseases such as influenza are also rampant," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
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