In its new variant estimates today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant is now dominant the northwestern region, making it the most frequently detected type in all US regions.
National proportion at 80%
Also, the more transmissible variant expanded its footprint in areas where it already dominates, and in the United States as a whole, it accounts for an estimated 80.2% of samples, up steadily from 74.7% the previous week.
In the Northeastern, XBB.1.5 makes up nearly all of the samples. And it constitutes at least 75% of samples in other regions of the country. No other subvariants are increasing in prevalence.
XBB.1.5 still doesn't seem to be fueling a large winter surge. US COVID-19 activity rose modestly after Thanksgiving and remained at that level until just after the New Year's holiday. Now, cases are slowly declining.
The 7-day average for new daily COVID-19 cases is 37,171, according to Washington Post tracking. Over the past week, the nation has reported 412 new COVID-19 deaths each day, down 18% from the week before. The daily average for hospitalizations shows a 3% drop.
Updates from Europe and the UK
Europe's COVID-19 indicators show that the region's situation continues to improve, but some countries are reporting recent upticks in cases, especially in seniors, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said today in its latest update. A combination of Omicron subvariants are circulating, and XBB.1.5 levels are slowly growing, now making up 14% of samples.
UK data reflects a mixed picture, the country's Health Security Agency (HSA) said yesterday in its latest update. Overall, hospitalizations have increased and are still highest in those ages 85 and older.
The HSA said the number of outbreaks increased slightly, with the highest number reported from nursing homes. Emergency department visits are up slightly, especially in people ages 65 and older.
Multiple variants continue to circulate, with BQ.1 making up 35.4%, CH.1.1 making up nearly 26%, and 23.5% characterized as XBB.1.5.