New Omicron Subvariant XBB.1.5 ‘Most Transmissible’ COVID Yet, WHO Warns

Digital color image of a variant of COVID-19 cells against a white background. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Omicron Covid variant concept.

At a glance

  • The latest Omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5, is the most transmissible strain of COVID yet — but does not seem to make people sicker, the World Health Organization has said.
  • XBB.1.5 has spread quickly across the northeastern US and accounts for about 41% of confirmed COVID cases across the nation, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
  • Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, warned that the number of people infected with XBB.1.5 has doubled in the US about every two weeks.
  • “It is the most transmissible subvariant that has been dectected yet,” Van Kerkhove told reporters during a press conference in Geneva on Wednesday.

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