Scientists discover new Omicron strand
…We’re monitoring XBB.1.16 – WHO
THE World Health Organization is monitoring the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16, which scientists have identified in more than two dozen countries.
The subvariant has not been found in the United States, but it is similar to the XBB.1.5 subvariant that has been dominant in the country since January while XBB.1.16 has one additional mutation that, according to lab studies, makes it more infectious and potentially more pathogenic.
WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, stated this a media briefing on Saturday
According to her, XBB.1.5 may be ‘most transmissible subvariant of Omicron to date.
“This is one to watch. It’s been in circulation for a few months. We haven’t seen a change in severity in individuals or in populations, but that’s why we have these systems in place,” she said.
Explaining that most of the samples of XBB.1.16 are from India, where it has become dominant, she said it may have pushed weekly COVID-19 cases in the country to more than doubled in the past week.
Omicron remains the variant of concern worldwide and hundreds of sublineages continue to circulate.
“We are in a much better situation than we were since the beginning of this pandemic. One of the big uncertainties we face going forward is the virus itself. It hasn’t settled into a predictable pattern. It continues to evolve,” Kerkhove continued.