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New XBB.1.5 subvariant will soon take over, predicts infectious diseases expert
MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2023
The latest Omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5, is highly transmissible and may infect many people, a top virologist said in a Facebook post on Monday.
Citing a report published last week on GitHub, Chulalongkorn University’s Assoc Prof Dr Thira Woratanarat said XBB.1.5 will become the main subvariant in the United States by mid-next month.
The variant has already been found in 5% of Covid-19 patients in Europe and due to its easy transmissibility, it can soon become the main subvariant there by the end of February, he said.
Thira, who is chief of Chulalongkorn University’s Information Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases, said XBB.1.5 will not be the only subvariant affecting people as countries have started reopening their borders, which is also allowing the spread of other subvariants.
Among them are the XBF found in Australia, CH.1.1 found in New Zealand and the UK and the BQ.1* + S:346T + S:144, which has been common in Denmark, France and the UK.
The trend of a variety of subvariants will also be seen in Thailand, due to the influx of foreign tourists during the high season, which will continue until April, he said.
Though the XBB.1.5 subvariant has been found to be five times more contagious than other variants of the virus, it has not been found to create very serious symptoms in most patients. However, there are still concerns about vulnerable people.
As many as 128,373 new Covid-19 infections were reported globally with 635 deaths on Sunday. So far, 673,294,559 people have contracted Covid-19 across the world and 6,746,068 have succumbed to the disease. Countries that reported the highest number of infections on Sunday were Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia and Mexico, respectively.
In Thailand, the Public Health Ministry reported that 627 Covid-19 patients had been admitted to hospital in the week of January 15 to 21, or about 90 persons per day, with a total of 44 people succumbing to the virus during the said period.