Corona variant XBB.1.16 on WHO watch list

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WHO has placed coronavirus variant XBB.1.16 on the watch list. Seven virus variants are on the World Health Organization’s list.

“We are seeing characteristics that point to an increased capacity for infection,” World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Director Mike Ryan said Tuesday in Geneva.

The sharp increase in infections with Corona variant XBB.1.16
The symptoms are the same as with other variants, according to previous findings, he said. XBB.1.16 was first reported in January. The variant now accounts for 4.2 percent of the 3,000 virus sequences submitted. Just a month ago, it was only 0.5 percent, he said. “This variant could continue to spread worldwide, and it could lead to an increase in cases,” Ryan said. But there is no evidence now that it is causing more severe disease.

There are seven variants on the watch list (variants under monitoring VUMs), and another is at the next higher level, “variant of interest” (VOI). There are no variants of concern (VOCs) listed at this time.

WHO consults on lifting the highest alert level
The Emergency Committee advises WHO on maintaining the highest alert level for the Corona pandemic and will meet again in the first week of May. It will discuss whether to recommend that WHO lift the “emergency of international concern” (PHEIC). According to Ryan, many countries have reached the point where they are experiencing relatively few severe illnesses with high vaccination rates. For them, coronavirus no longer represents an emergency, but that is far from true for all countries, Ryan said. In four weeks, three million infections were reported recently – although testing is almost non-existent in many places – and more than 23,000 deaths related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Hopefully, he said, there will be as little viral activity as possible shortly, and case numbers will only spike seasonally, similar to influenza or RSV viruses. “We’re not going to get rid of the virus,” Ryan said. It will continue to cause severe illness, he said.

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