A leading immunologist says the latest variant of Covid-19 transmits well, but there's no evidence to suggest it's any more severe.
Professor Paul Moynagh from Maynooth University says the X B B one-point-5 strain - a version of Omicron - is likely to spread here, as cases increase in the US.
Fewer than five cases of the new variant were detected in Ireland in the month leading up to Christmas according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
Professor Moynagh says there's no evidence that this strain is any more lethal.
"It's one of the sub lineages of the Omicron. So we're still talking about sort of an Omicron variant, slightly different.
"It's been detected in over 30 countries, very prevalent at the moment in the US, so certainly it's news for that reason, and transmits really well, but thankfully, there's no evidence to suggest that it's more lethal."