A new Covid variant called XBB.1.5 which is able to evade vaccines is surging throughout Britain.
The highly infectious strain has run rife throughout the US in the last week, accounting for four in 10 cases.
It is a variant of Omicron and can is able to infect people even if they have had the Covid vaccine, according to the Mail Online.
Although many public health experts are expressing concern about the rising COVID cases in China, infectious disease experts have been increasingly worried about the XBB.1.5 variant.
"Ironically, probably the worst variant that the world is facing right now is actually XBB," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota said.
Osterholm added that seven of the 10 U.S. states where cases and hospitaliaations are rising are in the Northeast, concurrent with an increase of XBB cases there.
Recombinants of the BA.2 variant, XBB and XBB.1.5, together accounted for 44.1 per cent of the total cases in the country for the last week of December. XBB.1.5 had made up 21.7 per cent of the total cases.
Infectious disease experts have been increasingly worried about the XBB.1.5 variant. Danny Lawson
Experts do not believe the new strain causes more severe illness.
Earlier this week the Government’s decision to require travellers from China to produce a negative Covid test before flying to the UK was defended by the chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee.
The announcement on Friday brings the UK into line with a growing number of countries – including the US, Italy, India and Japan – in imposing new controls as Beijing reopens its borders.
Some scientists have said such measures are unlikely to prevent new variants reaching the UK.
One in 25 cases of Covid in the UK are now believed to be the XBB.1.5 variant Kirsty O'Connor