Highly Immune Evasive Omicron XBB.1.5 Variant Is Quickly Becoming Dominant In U.S.
- The COVID omicron XBB.1.5 variant is rapidly becoming dominant in the U.S. because it is highly immune evasive and appears more effective at binding to cells than related subvariants, scientists say.
- 1.5 now represents about 41% of new cases nationwide in the U.S., nearly doubling in prevalence over the past week, according to the data published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Scientists at Columbia University, in a study published last month in the journal Cell, warned that the rise of subvariants such as XBB could “further compromise the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines and result in a surge of breakthrough infections as well as re-infections.” The scientists described the resistance of the XBB subvariants to antibodies from vaccination and infection as “alarming.”
- Andrew Pekosz, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University, said XBB.1.5 is different from its family members because it has an additional mutation that makes it bind better to cells. He noted, however, that the boosters appear to be preventing severe disease.