New super corona variant – first cases in Austria reported

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The highly contagious Omicron subline XBB.1.5 is already dominating the infection scene in the USA. The first cases appeared in Austria.

Before the Christmas vacations and the turn of the year, the omicron subvariants BQ.1, BQ.1.1 and BQ.1.1.10 took the lead in the coronavirus race in Austria. But that could quickly change again: since mid-December, the corona variant XBB.1.5 has dominated in the northeastern U.S., and its share is already increasing in other parts of the Americas.

According to expert estimates, the Omicron subline could also spread in Europe in the coming weeks and months: “One can say with some prognostic certainty that the variant will also become the dominant variant in our country,” German epidemiologist Hajo Zeeb is certain.

In any case, the so-called “super variant” has already arrived in Austria, as molecular biologist Ulrich Elling shows in a breakdown on Twitter. The researcher from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) is responsible, together with his team, for sequencing surveillance throughout Austria.

There has been a significant increase recently, especially in Vienna, Salzburg and Tyrol. Nevertheless, the scientist emphasizes that the new subline is not yet a relevant player in Austria. However, an increase is expected, he adds.

But what makes XBB.1.5 a super variant? Quite simply, the subline is said to be more easily transmissible than any of the previously known Corona variants. According to the data of epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, the new subline is even 120 percent faster in its spread than the previous king variant BQ1.

So far, there is little information on the severity of disease with XBB.1.5, he said, adding that cases and hospitalizations have increased throughout the U.S., not just in regions where XBB.1.5 is prevalent. For Richard Neher, head of the Evolution of Viruses and Bacteria Research Group at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, this is the first indication that the severity is not significantly different from that of other currently circulating corona variants.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), XBB.1.5 has already been detected in 29 countries.

  • source: heute.at/picture: pixabay.com
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