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new XBB.1.5 is the most transmissible subvariant

XBB.1.5, a subvariant of omicron, is the most transmissible so far and new waves of covid-19 are expected around the world.

“We are worried” – these are the words of the epidemiologist and technical leader of the team of specialists that monitor the Covid-19 through the World Health Organization, Maria Van Kerkhove. The alert is issued after detecting that the XBB.1.5a subvariant of omicron, is the most transmissible strain to date.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, told the press, in a videoconference, that the organization’s specialists are “closely monitoring and assessing the risk” of the subvariant that seems to spread more quickly, noting that new information will be made public. according to the next data that are obtained from now on.

Public health leaders stressed that we need to be informed about the new strain but that despite being “the most transmissible form of omicron” found to date, there is no reason for further alarm.

According to Van Kerkhove, the expected increase in waves of infection does not necessarily mean more deaths from covid-19. “Countermeasures continue to work,” said the expert.

Learn more about XBB.1.5

XBB.1.5 is a subvariant of omicron, first detected in the United States. It has already been found in at least 29 countries – Portugal is included in the list.

Simply put, this is a variation of the XBB lineage – which, in turn, is one of multiple lineages detected from the variant mutations. omicron. Science believes that the recombinant XBB.1.5 is able to “fool” and overcome the barriers of the immune system and spreads at a speed never seen until now.

New waves of covid-19 in sight

The concern, given the galloping growth of this new subvariant, is shared by health specialists from all over the world.

Ashish Jha, pandemic response coordinator in the United States wrote on his Twitter that there is “an impressive increase” in the number of new cases caused by XBB.1.5 in the country.

In December, the percentage of new infections by covid-19 in the United States skyrocketed on the graph, increasing from 4% to 41% – data that indicate the high potential for transmissibility of XBB.1.5.

Around the world, new waves of the covid-19 disease are expected and the WHO, like health experts, call for individual care to combat the virus.

In the US, Jha publicly highlighted the importance of returning to individual and collective measures that can alleviate the expected scenario: adequate ventilation, air filtration, rapid tests, up-to-date vaccines and high-quality protective masks.

If we all do our part”, he wrote on his social networks, “we can reduce the impact it will have on our lives”.

XBB.5.1 and vaccines

The North American who leads the responses to the pandemic in his country suggested that studies are underway on the effectiveness of current vaccines against the XBB.5.1 lineage: “Soon we will have more data”.

So far, everything seems to indicate that our current immune responses are not able to stop XBB.1.5.

Hospitalizations and deaths from covid-19

Experts have made a prediction about the exponential increase in cases of covid-19 worldwide, without, however, associating the high transmissibility with a rise in the number of deaths from the disease.

Van Kerkhove said that the WHO is working on a risk assessment that should be published in the coming days, noting that the organization’s technical consultants are analyzing data on hospitalizations and laboratory results, as a way to determine the severity of XBB.1.5.

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