Alert on new strain of coronavirus: “It’s the most contagious yet,” says WHO

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In the next 24 hours, the evaluation of the data by the World Health Organization will be completed, in order to assess whether the XBB.1.5 subvariant of Omicron is serious or not

New data seems to be created regarding the coronavirus pandemic, as the data collected by the World Health Organization is extremely worrying. According to the latest data, the latest strain that has appeared and that seems to be “galloping” in the US, is estimated to be the most contagious to date.

At the WHO, strong concern is expressed, as, from our experience in recent years, it has been proven that the greater number of diseases, implies a greater number of deaths. At the WHO, they are currently investigating how severe the new subvariant is, i.e. the rates of mortality and serious illness requiring hospitalization.

The new strain dominates the US

Omicron’s XBB.1.5 strain, which has become the dominant strain in the US in just a few weeks, could cause a new wave of cases, a World Health Organization official told reporters on Wednesday.

“We are concerned about its growth advantage, particularly in some countries in Europe and the northeastern part of the United States, where XBB.1.5 has quickly replaced other subvariants in circulation,” said Maria Van Kerkhove.

However, it is not yet clear whether the new strain’s increased infectivity is leading to more people being hospitalized, and therefore more deaths. Immunity built up to a sufficient degree, both by vaccination and natural disease, has raised a shield against the new strain.

However, the global situation appears to be worsening, as the new strain has been detected in 29 countries worldwide. “But it could be circulating in many more countries,” said the WHO official.

What the first mortality figures show

The data from the US, where the new strain appears to be prevalent, does not show a rapid increase in mortality, and this is an extremely positive sign. Death rates were about seven times higher this time last year and hospitalizations were nearly three times higher. Both categories have been lower at various points in the pandemic, however, and hospitalizations in New England, where XBB.1.5 is spreading rapidly, are on the rise and are at about 40% of last year’s levels.

Van Kerkhove said the rise in hospitalizations in the northeast cannot yet be attributed to XBB.1.5 because other respiratory illnesses, including influenza, may be partly to blame.

What’s next: Jha warned that Americans’ immunity to XBB.1.5 “probably isn’t great” if a previous infection was before July or if they hadn’t received the bivalent vaccine that became available in September.

He recommended people get the bivalent vaccine, get tested before attending large gatherings or meeting elderly or immunocompromised people, and wear a high-quality mask in crowded indoor spaces.

The WHO is working to come up with an analysis of the severity of the new strain, which it will publish in the coming days, Van Kerkhove said.

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