The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that it is monitoring another new Covid variant known as “XBB” that is reortedly responsible for around 3.1% of all new infections in the United States.
Last month US health officials said they were tracking the new Covid strain which had been described as the “most vaccine-resistant ever” after it caused a surge in cases in Singapore.
In a briefing this week, Chief White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that XBB is even more immune evasive than the omicron BQ subvariants.
He added that the new boosters, which were designed against omicron BA.5, probably won’t as effective against infection and mild illness from XBB, but the shots should protect against severe disease.
Yahoo reports: Earlier this month, the CDC offered preliminary estimates suggesting XBB is potentially doubling in proportion about every 12 days. That could be faster than the current pace of the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 variants now dominant across the country.
However, the Biden administration’s top COVID officials and experts say they do not think XBB will pose a new threat on the scale of when the Omicron variant first emerged a year ago.
“Where we’ve seen surges, they’ve seen mostly it be driven by seasonality, people coming inside, spending more time around one another, but not being specifically being driven by the emergence of a new variant,” the CDC’s Ian Williams told a meeting of the CDC’s emergency response and preparedness advisers earlier this month.
XBB is one of several new lineages that have displaced BA.4 and BA.5, the Omicron variant siblings that had driven a wave of cases over the summer. As of this week, the CDC says BA.5 has fallen to less than 1 in 5 new infections nationwide and BA.4 has now virtually disappeared.
The strain’s arrival also comes at a time when most regions, including the Northeast, are seeing relatively flat or slowing COVID-19 hospitalization rates.
Around 3 in 4 Americans currently live in counties deemed at “low” COVID-19 Community Levels, the lowest tier of precautions recommended by the agency, according to figures released Friday by the agency.
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