BHealth Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is concerned about the new coronavirus variant XBB.1.5. “Hopefully we can get through the winter before such a variant can spread to us,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday night. “We monitor whether and how strong XBB.1.5. occurs in Germany.” The new variant is increasing the number of hospital admissions in the north-east of the USA. At the beginning of the year, the US health authority CDC estimated that XBB.1.5 accounted for around 40.5 percent of all new infections in the USA in the week before the turn of the year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) was already concerned about the new coronavirus variant on Wednesday. The variant discovered in October is more easily transferrable than any of the previously known variants, said WHO corona specialist Maria van Kerkhove on Wednesday in Geneva. According to the available genetic analyzes of the virus, it is spreading primarily in the USA and Europe and has already been detected in 29 countries. It is a subset of the omicron variant that has been circulating since late 2021. A risk analysis is in progress and will be published shortly, said van Kerkhove.
“We demand reliable data from China”
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned: “In recent weeks, reports of hospitalizations and pressure on health systems have mounted, particularly in regions in the northern hemisphere, where respiratory diseases such as influenza are also rampant.”
With a view to the corona wave in China, the WHO continues to press for more information from the Chinese authorities. Tedros expressed understanding for countries that have introduced testing regulations for travelers from China. “We continue to urge China to provide faster, regular and reliable data on hospital admissions and deaths, as well as more comprehensive real-time virus sequencing,” Tedros said. “Because the virus circulation in China is so high and comprehensive data is not provided, it is understandable that some countries are taking measures to protect their own citizens.” The requirement for tests are not travel restrictions, said WHO emergency response coordinator Mike Ryan.
He criticized the narrow Chinese definition for the statistics of corona deaths. Only infected people who die of respiratory problems are counted. According to the WHO, however, the complications that can lead to death from Covid-19 are much more extensive. The Chinese definition is far too narrow, Ryan said. The WHO therefore assumes that the true number of Covid 19 deaths is significantly higher.