The battle against the novel coronavirus appeared to be taking a downturn in recent months, as the number and severity of the cases around the globe continues to dwindle.
Well, except in China, where apocalyptic scenes are playing out after the end of the nation’s strict “zero COVID” policy. There, in the far east, we are seeing an enormous rise in the number of cases, which is causing fears that new, terrifying variants could be conjured.
In parts of the US, one new sub-variant of the Omicron version of COVID is gaining steam, and the World Health Organization is now sounding the alarm.
The new XBB.1.5 variant of COVID is the “most transmissible” yet detected, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official has warned.
The variant, which is a sub-variant of Omicron, is confirmed to be spreading in 25 countries, including the UK and US.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, told a press conference on Wednesday: “It is the most transmissible sub variant that has been detected yet.
“The reason for this are the mutations that are within… this sub variant of Omicron, allowing this virus to adhere to the cell and replicate easily.
The variant has been detected in the west already.
“And we are concerned about its growth advantage, in particular in some countries in Europe and in the US in North America, particularly the northeast part of the United States where XBB.1.5 has rapidly replaced other circulating variants.”
Given that much of the Northern Hemisphere is still in the depths of the winter season, confined to the indoors where social distancing is a bit difficult, the news could be disastrous.