XBB.1.5 subvariant: CDC reports new omicron strain taking over


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  4 weeks ago  •  14 comments

By:   Akshay Syal, M.D.

XBB.1.5 subvariant: CDC reports new omicron strain taking over
What is the XBB.1.5 subvariant? A new version of omicron is taking hold in the U.S., according to new data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

A new version of omicron has taken hold in the U.S., according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The subvariant of omicron, named XBB.1.5, has raised concerns about another potential wave of Covid cases following the busy holiday travel season.

The CDC projected Friday that about 40% of confirmed U.S. Covid cases are caused by the XBB.1.5 strain, up from 20% a week ago. In the Northeast, about 75% of confirmed cases are reported to be XBB.1.5.

It's not clear yet where this version of omicron came from, but it appears to be spreading quickly here. There's no indication it causes more severe illness than any other omicron virus, Dr. Barbara Mahon, director of CDC's Coronavirus and Other Respiratory Viruses Division, told NBC News.

While overall Covid hospitalizations are rising around the country, areas such as the Northeast that have seen high levels of the new variant have not experienced a disproportionate increase in hospitalizations, Mahon said.

"We're seeing hospitalizations have been notching up overall across the country," she said. "They don't appear to be notching up more in the areas that have more XBB.1.5."

The seven-day average of daily Covid hospitalizations reached 42,140 on Friday, an increase of 4.2% from two weeks previously, according to an NBC News tally. The seven-day average of daily intensive care unit admissions has also risen to 5,125 per day, an increase of more than 9% from two weeks ago.

There's a lot that's still unknown about the latest subvariant, including whether it's more contagious than other forms of omicron, Mahon said.

Other scientists worry that XB.1.5 is even better at getting around the antibodies we've built up from Covid vaccines and previous infection from the many different types of omicron that have spread since last December, including the original BA.1 and the more recent BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 subvariants.

The XBB.1.5 is a relative of the omicron XBB variant, which is a recombinant of the omicron BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 subvariants.

Combined, XBB and XBB.1.5 make up 44% of cases in the U.S., crowding out other versions of omicron.

XBB has been found in at least 70 countries, according to the World Health Organization, and has caused surges of infection in some parts of Asia, including India and Singapore, in October.

Studies performed in the lab have found that XBB is capable of evading antibodies from previous Covid infections or vaccinations, meaning that being exposed to the virus would mean someone is more likely to get sick or reinfected and show symptoms.

"It's clear that there's immune evasive properties of XBB," said Dr. Isaach Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist at the University of Toronto. "That's been demonstrated both in laboratory studies and seen clinically in cases and hospitalizations."

Given the high level of population immunity in the U.S. — either through infection, vaccination or both — Bogoch and others hope that, even if cases start to rise significantly, there won't be a dramatic spike in hospitalizations or deaths as seen in previous waves.

Antibody studies don't tell the whole story. Other parts of the immune system can protect against the virus and the Covid vaccines should remain effective at preventing severe illness and death from the virus, evidence suggests.

"We might certainly have a wave, but it's just much less likely to be as deadly or overwhelming to a health care system compared to earlier waves before we had this degree of hybrid immunity," said Bogoch.

Do Covid vaccines work against XBB.1.5?

For encouraging signs, Rick Bright, an American immunologist and former director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, pointed to Singapore's experience with XBB.

There was a surge of cases, but "we didn't see the corresponding major surges in hospitalizations and deaths," Bright said.

"We think it is because a larger population of people in Singapore have been vaccinated with latest vaccines and boosters," he said.

That could be a problem in the U.S., unfortunately.

People age 65 and older are the most vulnerable to any form of the Covid virus. Yet, only 37.5% of that age group has received the updated omicron booster, according to the most recent CDC data.

The most important thing experts agree is to get a booster shot with the bivalent vaccines to bolster your immune system against the newer subvariants.

"We aren't in 2020, but people still do need to take this seriously and protect themselves," said Mahon, adding that getting the updated Covid vaccine is especially important for those over the age of 65, a high-risk group that has seen pretty low booster uptake recently.

A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the new Covid boosters from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech bolstered antibody responses to many subvariants of Omicron, including the XBB variant.

While the new booster — called a bivalent because it targets the omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5 as well as the original coronavirus — is not perfect, it offers additional protection to that what was seen in the original or monovalent boosters previously available, said Mehul Suthar, an associate professor at the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University and author of the report.

"With the monovalent boosters your neutralizing antibodies are just not that potent against the variants, but the bivalent booster ensures it's slightly better," he said. "It's not knock your socks off amazing, but it's better, which says the bivalent boosters are working the way they should."

The new XBB.1.5 variant was not studied in the report, but Suthar predicts its immune evasive properties to be in a similar range as XBB. He expects the bivalent booster will bolster protection against the latest version as well.

210729-1x1-akshay-syal-md-ac-536p.jpg Akshay Syal, M.D.


jrDiscussion - desc
Junior Principal
1  Hallux    4 weeks ago

Covid XBB.1.5? Apparently the term 'China Virus' has not taken hold no matter how hard the rabidly vapid crowd tries.

Professor Guide
1.1  Tacos!  replied to  Hallux @1    4 weeks ago

The point is to identify the variants with specificity. There's nothing political about it.

Junior Principal
1.1.1  Hallux  replied to  Tacos! @1.1    4 weeks ago
There's nothing political about it.

I must have been asleep for the past 3 years.

Professor Guide
1.1.2  Tacos!  replied to  Hallux @1.1.1    4 weeks ago

There’s nothing political about identifying virus variants with letters and numbers. For example, XBB.1.5. For another example, types of influenza have labels like H1N1. If that’s not clear enough, I don’t know what else to tell you. Maybe get educated about a thing before you assume it’s all political.

Professor Principal
1.1.3  JBB  replied to  Tacos! @1.1.2    4 weeks ago

Hallux is talking of the term China Virus.

Which was absolutely a political thang...

Professor Principal
1.1.4  Tessylo  replied to  JBB @1.1.3    4 weeks ago

Which was originally used by trumpturd with his supporters/enablers jumping on the band wagon

Professor Principal
1.1.5  Tessylo  replied to  Hallux @1.1.1    4 weeks ago

Of course, it's meant to be political, all shit starting with #45 who did absolutely nothing to stop the spread of Co-vid and who is the one who started calling it the China virus while his enablers and supporters spread the ignorance.

Professor Guide
1.1.6  Tacos!  replied to  JBB @1.1.3    4 weeks ago
Hallux is talking of the term China Virus.

Except that the comment starts with,

Covid XBB.1.5?

We are way past whether or not this disease will be called “China virus” or Covid. What we see here is trolling.

Most infectious diseases end up with some name that is not about a place. Influenza, Measles, Ebola, Pertussis, Chlamydia, Staf, Herpes, even the OG SARS. They all originated from somewhere, and yet it’s seen as more useful to give them their own name.

Covid-19 is short for a COrona VIrus Disease that first infected people in 2019. Straight forward and descriptive in a scientific way.

We could call it China Virus, but how would that be useful? This is not the first virus to come out of China, and it won’t be the last. So labeling it the China Virus is pointless.

But three years into this pandemic, it’s still the most important thing to some people that we label this disease the MFing China Virus. 

People need to grow the fuck up.

Greg Jones
Professor Guide
2  Greg Jones    4 weeks ago

Yeah.....that's just the medical term for this latest strain....but, everyone by now knows where this virus originated, and the likely circumstances of how it escaped and spread.'

 At any rate, will be getting my third booster in the next couple weeks.

independent Liberal
Freshman Quiet
3  independent Liberal    4 weeks ago

Prior to the covid-19 variant these millions of coronaviruses lived among us. We often heard about entire cruise ship outbreaks etc. The difference today is our media is laser focused on reporting variant after variant by name now. We are for the most part with the exception of Covid-19 talking about the common cold. Something that has been with us since the inception of man and will be here until the finish of man.

If you are sick, stay at home, this is probably the biggest change in society we are seeing. People use to work sick etc. Wash your hands, don't cough and sneeze on people. Get a few minutes of natural sunlight a day at least. Take care of your body, eat healthy and try to maintain a healthy weight.

It may be 10 years from now before science truly unpacks what we have all been through the last few years, what worked, what didn't work, and what we might have been more successful doing. Until then I am going to live my life and I hope others do. I just can't see how it benefits us to live in fear of every new stain spit out by the biological and natural factory of random living organic evolution.

Happy New Year, I predict at least 15 deadly strains will be discovered this year and someone is going to wear a space suit to the grocery store.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  independent Liberal @3    4 weeks ago
Prior to the covid-19 variant these millions of coronaviruses lived among us. We often heard about entire cruise ship outbreaks etc.

Cruise ships broke out with the norovirus, not coronaviruses. And yes there is a variant of the coronavirus that has been around us, but they have been a non-spiked variant.

Professor Principal
3.2  Tessylo  replied to  independent Liberal @3    4 weeks ago

Here's what I think of your nonsense rant jrSmiley_80_smiley_image.gifjrSmiley_90_smiley_image.gif especially your last statement

Outside of hospitals and medical settings, offices, etc, do you even see people wearing masks now??????????????

Professor Participates
3.2.1  Jasper2529  replied to  Tessylo @3.2    4 weeks ago
Outside of hospitals and medical settings, offices, etc, do you even see people wearing masks now??????????????

Good question, and the answer is yes. Some are even foolishly mandated (See Philadelphia public schools), and Rochelle Walensky is still stuck on stupid by falsely claiming that masks stop Covid  transmission.


CDC encourages people to wear masks to help prevent spread of Covid, flu and RSV over the holidays


The Centers for Disease Control Prevention on Monday encouraged people to wear masks to help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses this season as Covid, flu and RSV circulate at the same time.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a call with reporters, said wearing a mask is one of several everyday precautions that people can take to reduce their chances of catching or spreading a respiratory virus during the busy holiday season.

Workers in L.A. County should wear masks indoors to prevent COVID surge, officials say

DEC. 31, 2022   5 AM PT

Faced with the possibility of another COVID-19 surge stemming from parties and travel over the winter holiday season, Los Angeles County health officials are urging workers and students to wear masks in indoor public settings for at least 10 days once they return to work and school.

Wearing masks for this duration could help blunt another possible wave following New Year’s Day, officials say.

School systems in L.A. County have not followed the path being pursued by their counterparts in Philadelphia, where the school district plans an  indoor mask order  for students and staff for the first eight days of school after winter break.

Professor Guide
3.2.2  Tacos!  replied to  Jasper2529 @3.2.1    4 weeks ago
falsely claiming that masks stop Covid  transmission

Where is anyone making the claim that masks “stop” Covid transmission? Looking at your quotes here, I see words like 

Wear Masks To Help Prevent Spread Of Covid


one of several everyday precautions that people can take to reduce their chances


Wearing masks for this duration could help

Nowhere does anyone claim that masks “stop” Covid or any other disease. You’re arguing a straw man.

Masks inhibit the spread of disease in the same way that door locks inhibit burglars. No one thinks a locked door is going to stop a determined burglar, but you still lock your doors all the same - unless you don’t care if someone breaks in.

Masks - particularly the N95 variety - are very effective at making it much harder for Covid to infect you. Or if you are sick yourself, it makes it very hard to pass it on to someone else. Not impossible. No one ever said that. The N95 designation itself is there because the masks are 95% effective at filtering out the things they were designed to block. If the masks were perfect, they’d be called N100.

I say all this because one of the popular objections to mask requirements is the argument you make here - that they can’t “stop” Covid, so there’s no point at all to wearing them. Well, locks can’t stop burglars, but they’re still a good idea. So are masks, given the right circumstances.


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