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Subvariant XBB.1.5 cases are rapidly rising around the world, but US officials still see what’s happening in China as ‘unique’

(CNN) — The new subvariant XBB.1.5 of omicron “went from being almost non-existent a month ago to now accounting for a large part of total infections” and is “increasing rapidly,” Dr. Ashish Jha, House response coordinator, said Friday. White before the covid-19.

In an interview with CNN’s Kate Bolduan on ‘At This Hour,’ Jha said it’s too early to know how dangerous the subvariant is, but “the data suggests that if you’ve been vaccinated, and if you’ve received that bivalent booster updated, it will have a good amount of protection.

White House officials are closely investigating the subvariant, he said, especially after the percentage of new Covid-19 infections in the United States caused by XBB.1.5 rose from 4% to 1.5% in December. 41%

“We don’t quite see it yet, but it’s still early days and infections are still rising,” Jha said.

This week, World Health Organization (WHO) officials raised concerns about how quickly the subvariant is growing, saying it “is the most transmissible form of omicron to date.”

In addition, Jha stated that today public virus mitigation strategies such as “mandates and requirements are going to be much less necessary” and testing, masking, vaccinations and treatments become more important.

Jha said that the approach of health officials towards China is to ensure that travelers test negative before boarding a plane from China; recommend that people on long flights wear face masks; and “increase genomic surveillance of travelers to identify these variants.”

Covid-19 tests in New York, United States, on December 9, 2022. (Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Covid-19 tests in New York, United States, on December 9, 2022. (Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The biggest concern is covid-19

However, he stated that, for the moment, concern is more focused on covid-19 than on other viruses such as respiratory syncytial (RSV) and influenza, due to the large increase in coronavirus cases throughout the United States.

“We are tracking all of them very closely. Here’s what we know: VSR is down, that’s good. It looks like the flu has peaked and it’s started to subside in most of the country as well, that’s good, so we’ve been following them very closely and now it looks like covid is on the rise,” he said.

The situation in China is “unique”

The explosion of Covid-19 cases in China is a “unique case” that does not necessarily reflect what is happening in the rest of the world when it comes to the coronavirus, also said Dr. Jha, who was consulted on the matter.

China minimizes the magnitude of its covid-19 outbreak, according to the WHO

“When I look at things globally, this is what I see: there is a lot of immunity, when people get vaccinated, and there is access to treatments, severe forms of the disease are kept at low levels. That is our number one goal,” he stated.

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