By Mona Wenisch, dpa I Sunday, January 8, 2023
BERLIN – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that XBB.1.5 accounted for almost half of all new infections in the US.
“It can be said with some prognostic certainty that the variant will become the dominant variant in our country as well,” epidemiologist Hajo Zeeb of the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology in Bremen said.
“XBB.1.5 is encountering a resurgence of waning immunity in people whose vaccination or infection occurred some time ago,” Zeeb said.
“First in the US and then subsequently here in Germany.” However, he said, the number of known cases of XBB.1.5 in Germany was currently still very low. There is no need to think about new measures yet.”
The variant, discovered in October, has rapidly increased in frequency in the north-eastern US and has dominated infections since mid-December, said Richard Neher, head of the Evolution of Viruses and Bacteria Research Group at the University of Basel.
Outside the north-eastern US the variant is less common but was becoming more prevalent, he said. There was little information on the severity of illness the variant caused, Neher said.
Cases and hospitalizations had increased across the US, not just in regions where XBB.1.5 was dominant, Neher said. That may signal that the severity is not significantly different from other currently circulating variants, he added.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach expressed concern about the variant on Thursday. “Hopefully we’ll get through the winter before such a variant can spread here as well,” Lauterbach wrote on Twitter.