Most Contagious Coronavirus Variant: Lauterbach hopes we're ahead of XBB.1.5 spread through winter
Created: 05/01/2023 07:49
By: Markus Hofstetter
A new omicron subvariant of the coronavirus is making hospitals busier in the United States.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is watching the development with concern.
Berlin – 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.
At the beginning of the year, the US health authority CDC estimated that XBB.1.5 accounted for around 40.5 percent of all new infections in the USA in the week before the turn of the year.
“We monitor whether and how strong XBB.1.5.
performs in Germany,” Lauterbach tweeted 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 USA.
So far, it has been detected in 29 countries, including Europe.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is concerned about the new omicron variant XBB.1.5 © Joerg Carstensen/dpa
Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5: WHO sees no signs of more severe diseases so far
The World Health Organization (WHO) is also concerned about the coronavirus variant discovered in October.
According to Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO program to combat the corona pandemic, it is the "most contagious subvariant discovered to date".
It is a subgroup of the omicron variant that has been circulating since the end of 2021.
A risk analysis is in progress and will be published shortly.
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.
Corona wave in China: World Health Organization wants reliable data faster and more regularly
With a view to the corona wave in China, the WHO continues to press for more information from the Chinese authorities.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed understanding for countries that have introduced testing regulations for travelers from China.
"We continue to urge China to provide faster, regular and reliable data on hospital admissions and deaths, as well as more comprehensive real-time virus sequencing," Tedros said.
Because the virus circulation in China is so high and comprehensive data is not provided, it is understandable that some countries are taking measures to protect their own citizens.
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The requirement for tests are not travel restrictions, said WHO emergency response coordinator Mike Ryan.
He criticized the narrow Chinese definition for the statistics of corona deaths.
Only infected people who die of respiratory problems are counted.
According to the WHO, however, the complications that can lead to death from Covid-19 are much more extensive.
The Chinese definition is far too narrow, Ryan said.
The WHO therefore assumes that the true number of Covid 19 deaths is significantly higher.