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Omicron Subvariant XBB.1.5 May Infect recovered, Vaccinated People: US Health Officials

The highly infectious omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 may be more likely to infect people who have previously contracted COVID-19 warned NY City health officials.

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The highly infectious omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 may be more likely to infect people who have previously contracted COVID-19 warned New York City health officials, adding that the vaccinated population is also at risk. On Friday, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said on Twitter that XBB.1.5 is the most transmissible form of COVID-19 and it "now accounts for 73% of all sequenced COVID-19 cases in NYC."

"XBB.1.5 is the most transmissible form of COVID-19 that we know of to date and may be more likely to infect people who have been vaccinated or already had COVID-19," the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tweeted.

Omicron subvariant may infect vaccinated population

The department further said that receiving the COVID vaccine, including an updated booster shot, is the best way to prevent hospitalisation and death caused by the new variant. As per the information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 43% of the cases in the US have been caused by the COVID XBB.1.5 variant. Notably, the infection caused by the subvariant accounted for around 30% of cases in the first week of January in the country.

WHO warns against surge in infection rate

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization warned that a highly transmissible new variant can lead to an increased number of cases based on genetic characteristics and early growth rate estimates. Meanwhile, health experts have warned that the infection cases are likely to evolve in the coming days.

"Our concern is how transmissible it is," said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19. She added that "the more this virus circulates, the more chances it will have to change," reported the NY Post. However, the health experts have not gathered enough data to prove that the new subvariant of the coronavirus causes more severe disease, but the agency is working on a new risk assessment of the variant that it expects to release soon, she said.

US lawmaker calls on CDC to investigate deadly vaccine side effects

Meanwhile, US House Commerce Committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodger has asked the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to "rapidly investigate" a potential connection between Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and cases of infection among the elderly population.

Earlier on Friday, the CDC stated that the reports indicated a link between Pfizer's bivalent booster doses and a slight increase in strokes among people over 65 who had received them. The agency further said that an immunisation would be carried out, but the chances are grim that there is a "true clinical risk" and that everyone over the age of six months should take the vaccine regardless.
 
"The lack of transparency over the past three years has broken Americans’ trust in our public health agencies," said Rodgers in a statement on Friday. "CDC and FDA have systems in place to monitor vaccine safety that have identified this preliminary signal," she added, saying that "now these agencies must rapidly investigate, in an open and transparent manner, whether or not the vaccine may have contributed to the reported strokes," reported RT.com. She went on to say that both the CDC and FDA will be called to testify before the committee so that "we can begin the long road of helping to restore Americans’ trust in our public health agencies."

Image: AP

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