Are new virus variants coming from the USA and China?

In the USA, the Omikron sub-variant XBB.1.5 has been predominant for some time. In China, it is again other Omikron variants. Could this have an impact on the pandemic situation in Austria?

Omicron subtype XBB.1.5 dominant in the USA

The XBB.1.5 subtype appears to be much more transmissible than other circulating omicron subtypes such as BQ.1.1. Omicron subtype XBB.1.5 has been detected in 46 countries to date. The majority of cases to date occur in the United States, where XBB.1.5 is the dominant variant nationwide, accounting for nearly 50 percent. In some regions of the U.S., XBB.1.5 is responsible for more than 80 percent of infection cases. In Europe, XBB.1.5 is still present at relatively low levels, and in Austria, XBB.1.5 was detectable at more than half of wastewater treatment plants at the beginning of January, mostly at very low levels. The EU health authority ECDC currently rates the risk associated with XBB.1.5 for incompletely or unvaccinated vulnerables as moderate to high.

Pandemic situation in China

Omicron subvariants BF.7 and BA.5.2 appear to be dominant in China. Regarding case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths in China, the data situation remains unclear. Therefore, the epidemiological risk posed by China is difficult to assess. However, data submitted to WHO indicate that the wave of infection in China is also increasingly affecting vulnerable populations and placing a heavy burden on health systems.

No impact for Austria

A serious change in the epidemiological situation in Austria is not assumed so far - neither from the virus variants circulating in the USA nor from those in China.

Even more information and details on the international virus variant update as well as the current state of research on Corona can be found in the current GECKO report:

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