Coronavirus tally: WHO confirms XBB.1.5 has growth advantage and greater immune escape than other omicron subvariants


The XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant has a growth advantage over other circulating subvariants, and higher immune escape than previous ones, but for now there is no data on clinical severity, according to the World Health Organization. In its weekly epidemiological update, the agency said there are six omicron variants currently under monitoring and they accounted for 76.2% of sequences submitted to a central database in the week through Dec. 25, with BQ.1 accounting for most of those or 53.4%. For now, XBB.1.5 data all stems from the U.S., where the seven-day average of new cases stood at 63,088 on Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker. That’s down 2% from two weeks ago and below the recent peak of 70,508 on Christmas Eve. The daily average for hospitalizations was up 12% at 46,278. The average for deaths was 555, up 61 from two weeks ago. The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 665.8 million on Thursday, while the death toll rose above 6.7 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. leads the world with 101.5 million cases and 1,098,512 fatalities.

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