WHO questions severity of XBB.1.5 COVID subvariant as U.S. cases rise

WHO questions severity of XBB.1.5 COVID subvariant as U.S. cases rise

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant is still gaining ground within the United States, accounting for at least 43% of the sequenced cases as of last week, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The big picture: The XBB.1.5 COVID subvariant — nicknamed the “Kraken” variant — is representing more and more cases, and experts are questioning the severity of the variant as real-world data emerges.

Increase the subvariant of XBB cases 1.5

Details: The XBB 1.5 variant accounted for 43% of cases listed for the week ending Jan. 14 — up from 30.4% a week earlier, according to CDC estimates.

New York City health officials said the subvariant now accounts for roughly 73% of New York’s listed cases, according to NBC New York. The Hawaii Department of Health said the subvariant was recently discovered in wastewater, Hawaii News Now reports. Houston health officials said XBB .1.5 likely also accounts for the city’s increase in COVID-19 cases.

Flashback: The CDC said in late December that the XBB.1.5 strain was responsible for 40.5% of confirmed cases in the U.S. for the week ending Dec. 31, 2022, Axios reported.

But a week later, CDC estimates changed to reflect that the XBB.1.5 variant accounted for 18.3% of cases for the week ending December 31, 2022, and 27.6% of cases listed for the week ending January 7. XBB Variant 1.5: Severity and symptoms

Details: The World Health Organization said in a risk assessment earlier this week that the omicron XBB.1.5 variant — which it called one of the “most antibody-resistant variants” — does not have any mutations that make people sicker in compared to the previous ones. variants.

But the WHO said there is no real-world data on how the variant is actually affecting people, so the full severity of the variant and its symptoms cannot be fully determined, CNBC reports.

What they are saying: Dr. Ashish Jha, head of the White House Task Force on COVID, said earlier this week that “your protection against an XBB.1.5 infection is not as good” if you had a COVID-19 infection before July 2022 or the vaccine your last was before the last bivalent update in September.

“We will soon have more data on how well vaccines neutralize XBB.1.5,” Jha tweeted. “But now, for people without a very recent infection or a bivalent vaccine, you likely have very little protection against infection.”

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