New ‘Kraken’ XBB.15 Covid variant running rife in the UK is ‘most transmissible yet’, WHO warns

THE World Health Organisation has warned that a new Covid variant sweeping the UK could be the ‘most transmissible yet’.

The aggressive new Omicron strain, officially named XBB.1.5, but nicknamed Kraken, has already taken hold in parts of the US.

The strain isresponsible for up to half of all Covid cases in the worst hit regions of the UK

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid last night warned that medics are concerned about the variant.

“We are concerned about its growth advantage in particular in some countries in Europe and in the US… particularly the Northeast part of the United States, where XBB.1.5 has rapidly replaced other circulating variants. 

“Our concern is how transmissible it is… and the more this virus circulates, the more opportunities it will have to change,” she told a press conference.

Cases of the variant have almost doubled in a week in the US, with a high prevalence of infections being reported in New York, experts have warned.

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However, Prof Jonathan Ball of virology at the University of Nottingham, said there was “no evidence it’s more dangerous” than current strains.

“It might be able to escape antibodies, but that’s not the only immunity we have. 

“Our immune system is used to adapting to viruses,” he explained.

The Omicron strain has already been found to be milder than others that came before it.

And the mammoth rollout of vaccines across the UK has meant many already have some level of protection from the bug.

Data from the Sanger Institute states that the strain is responsible for up to half of all Covid cases in the worst hit regions of the UK.

Around 50 per cent of cases in the Wirral were caused the XBB.15, the surveillance centre states.

What are the symptoms of XBB.1.5?

No official data has come out regarding infection signs of the new variant, but as an off-shoot of Omicron, many of its early symptoms should be similar to previous versions of the strain.

These include:

  • Scratchy throat
  • Lower back pain
  • Runny nose/congestion
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sneezing
  • Night sweats
  • Body aches

Nine million Brits are still due a Covid booster.

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If you are eligible you can book a Covid-19 vaccination appointment online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy.



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