11 July 2024

The Thai Medical Sciences Department has confirmed two cases of COVID XBB.1.5, a hybrid of Omicron BJ.1 and BM.1.1.1 sub-variants, but there is no information to suggest that the hybrid is more serious than other sub-variants, said Dr. Supakit Sirilak, the head of the department, today (Wednesday).

The two confirmed cases, a Thai and a foreigner, have already recovered from the disease and there are no reports of infection among those who are close to the individuals. The two cases have been reported to GISAID by the Medical Sciences Department.

According to information from October 26th, 2023 through to February 12th this year, 33,219 XBB.1.5 confirmed cases have been reported globally, including 24,505 cases (73.7%) in the United States, 6.6% in the United Kingdom, 5.3% in Canada, 2.65% in Germany, 1.5% in Austria and 1% in Ireland and Denmark, according to Dr. Supakit.

He said that XBB.1.5 is easily transmissible and is capable in evading the immune system, like the XBB.1 sub-variant, adding, however, that XBB.1.5 cases in the US have steadily increased since December, but will not overtake the BN.1 sub-variant, which is as also easily transmissible.

In China, Dr. Supakit said that most of the cases being found are BA.5.2.48 (69.9%) and BF.7.14 (28.3%), but they are not new variants nor are they more transmissible than the sub-variants in Thailand.

He dismissed concerns over the spread of the XBB.1.5 sub-variant in Thailand by Chinese tourists, noting that only three cases have been detected in China since December.

The dominant sub-variant in Thailand is BA.21, which is a sub-variant of BA.2.75.

To reduce the risk of becoming infected, he advised the wearing of face masks in public and crowded venues and regular hand washing with sanitizer gel, even though the COVID-19 situation is steadily improving.

Members of the public should receive a vaccine booster four months after receiving their last shot, he added.