(CNN) — Scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) are concerned about its developmental benefits Omicron’s newest variant is XBB.1.5It rapidly replaces other forms of the virus that causes Covid-19 and has already been detected in at least 29 countries.
XBB.1.5 was detected in New York and Connecticut in late October and may lead to a new spike in Covid-19 cases in the US, CNN reported. Subdifferentiation has the ability to escape protection from vaccines and past infections. It is resistant to all current antibody therapies, including Evusheld.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that XBB.1.5 caused 41% of new infections in the US in the last week of December.
Scientists at the agency said they were conducting a risk assessment of the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, which is spreading rapidly, and planned to release those findings in the coming days.
“This is the most contagious subtype of Omicron to date,” epidemiologist and WHO technical lead for Covid-19, Maria van Gerkov, told a press conference on Wednesday.
“We are concerned about its developmental advantage,” he added, which appears to come from mutations in its genome.
“We expect more waves of infections around the world, although this does not have to translate into more waves of death because our countermeasures are still working,” Van Gerkov said.
“We don’t have data yet on severity or the clinical picture (that it causes), but we also have no indication that severity has changed with XBB.1.5. We are watching very closely,” said Van Kerkow. He noted that they are analyzing real-world data on hospitalization rates and data from laboratory tests to estimate their severity.
He encouraged countries to continue to collect and submit high-quality data on their Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
“There has been a 15% increase in deaths in the last month, and we know this is an underestimation due to delays in reporting,” he said.
“Continuing monitoring is critical so that we can track known variations and better assess what is happening globally,” he added.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that as the world enters its fourth year of the pandemic, it is in a much better place thanks to advances in treatments, tests and vaccines.
He said many countries still lack new, life-saving antiviral drugs like paxlovide. In this regard, he noted that WHO has authorized an Indian manufacturer to produce the world’s first generic drug to increase access in low- and middle-income countries.
He hopes 2023 will be the year when the WHO-declared public health emergency for Covid-19 officially ends.
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