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Understanding the newest COVID-19 variant XBB.1.5

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There’s a new variant of the Coronavirus, XBB.1.5 (“Kraken”), that is making its way through the US. This variant accounts for 27.6 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases last week, up from 18.3 percent the week prior. This variant has come with misinformation, as well. Here are some myths and facts you need to know about the XBB.1.5 variant:

Myth: XBB.1.5 is just the same as the other variants with a new name

Fact: This XBB.1.5 variant is being transmitted very quickly due to a change in the spike protein. The CDC is expecting the number of those infected by the XBB.1.5 variant to double every 9 days.

Myth: The new variant XBB.1.5 is caused by people being vaccinated
Fact:  The XBB.1.5 variant emerged as a result of two other omicron subvariants swapping parts, and came to be when patients were infected with multiple forms of the virus at the same time.

Myth: The new variant XBB.1.5 doesn’t respond to the vaccination

Fact: Virologists who studied XBB.1.5 have noticed that the XBB.1.5 variant isn’t better at escaping antibodies than the previous forms of the virus, but it’s quicker and more aggressive at binding to the cell and replicating, making it easier for this variant to dominate and spread through communities. 

Myth: There’s no need to get vaccinated

Fact: Recent studies from the CDC show that unvaccinated people have a 16 times higher risk of hospitalization with this latest variant compared to those vaccinated with the most recent booster.

It’s not too late to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Click here to find a list of vacation locations.

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