XBB.1.5 already outcompeting its closest relatives in England

Coronavirus, England, Europe, Evolution, Genome, Health, Infection, Testing, Transmission, UK, XBB, XBB.1, XBB.1.1, XBB.1.5, XBB.2

The latest Sanger Institute data for England show that the recombinant Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 is already outcompeting its familial lineages XBB, XBB.1.1 and XBB.2.

The latest figures from Sanger date back to 17th December 2022, so are already two weeks out of date. Sequence numbers are small, but they show XBB.1.5 at about 4% of sequences in England at that point in time.

If the virus is doubling in size every week, as it appears to be in the United States, by early January 2023 it could represent 20% or more of sequences in England.

At the time these sequences were checked, XBB.1.1 was the closest competitor for XBB.1.5.


Sanger’s estimate of the number of XBB* cases in England up to 17th December 2022:


XBB.1.5 (aka “Kraken” or #XBB15) as a proportion of all Covid cases in England in mid-December 2022:

On December 17th 2022, all combined XBB subvariants represented over 10% of sequences in England



Sanger Institute sequencing information for England



XBB.1.5 at a staggering FORTY PERCENT of sequences in the US