New Covid variant XBB.1.5 which can evade vaccines surges throughout Britain - 'Highly infectious'

A new Covid variant called XBB.1.5 which is able to evade vaccines is surging throughout Britain.
A new Covid variant called XBB.1.5 which is able to evade vaccines is surging throughout Britain.
Simon Dawson
George McMillan

By George McMillan


Published: 02/01/2023

- 15:42

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:24

One in 25 cases of Covid in the UK are now believed to be the XBB.1.5 variant

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.

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL File photo dated 08/01/22 of a person simulating taking a Covid 19 lateral flow test. There are no plans to introduce mandatory Covid tests for visitors from China, a UK Government spokesperson has said, after the US became the latest country to impose restrictions. The US joined Italy, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan in announcing new measures after the abrupt end of Beijing's zero-Covid policy sparked a surge in cases. Issue date: Wednesday December 28, 2022.
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.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 MONDAY DECEMBER 5 File photo dated 31/07/21 of a person receiving a Covid-19 jab. Covid-19 booster jabs have been given to more than two-thirds of those with a weakened immune system but hundreds of thousands of people who are at risk and more likely to become seriously ill have yet to come forward, health chiefs have warned. NHS England said 67% of those with a weakened immune system has been vaccinated but some may not be aware they have a condition that makes them eligible for a top-up. Issue date: Monday December 5, 2022.
One in 25 cases of Covid in the UK are now believed to be the XBB.1.5 variant
Kirsty O'Connor

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