According to the data provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a new version of omicron has established itself in the United States. After a busy holiday travel season, the subvariant of omicron known as XBB.1.5 has caused concern regarding another potential wave of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The CDC predicted that the XBB.1.5 strain is responsible for approximately 40% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, up from 20% a week ago. Approximately 75% of confirmed cases in the Northeast are thought to be XBB.1.5.
According to Dr. Barbara Mahon, director of the CDC’s Coronavirus and other Respiratory Viruses Division, the origin of this omicron strain is still unknown, but it appears to be rapidly spreading here. There is no evidence that it infects more people than any other omicron virus.
Dr. Barbara Mohan went on to say that although COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising nationwide, the Northeast and other regions with high levels of the new variant have not seen a disproportionate rise. She went on to say that hospitalizations have been rising all over the country, but they do not appear to be rising more in regions with more XBB.1.5.
Other researchers are concerned that XB.1.5 is even more adept than BA.1 and the more recent BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 subvariants at evading the antibodies we have developed from COVID-19 vaccines and previous infections with omicrons that have spread since December 2021.
The omicron XBB variant, which is a recombinant of the omicron BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 subvariants, is related to the XBB.1.5 variant. In the United States, XBB and XBB.1.5 account for 44% of cases, outnumbering other omicron variants. The World Health Organization says that XBB has been found in at least 70 countries. In October, it caused outbreaks of infection in India and Singapore, among other places in Asia.
XBB is capable of evading antibodies from previous COVID-19 infections or vaccinations, according to laboratory studies. Being exposed to the virus would increase a person’s risk of getting re-infected and developing symptoms.