what to know
- You’ve probably heard of version XBB.1.5; It is the latest “most infectious COVID-19 variant to date” and appears to be better able to attach to human cells, potentially making it more efficient at infecting.
- At this time, there is no evidence that the strain, a combination of the first two omicron subvariants, is more lethal or more likely to cause COVID complications, but a senior White House official said this week, if If you haven’t been vaccinated or been infected recently, your protection probably isn’t as good.
- According to the CDC, nowhere is XBB.1.5 more prevalent than in the northeastern United States; In the New York area, it accounts for about 73% of cases, compared to 27.6% nationally.
NEW YORK — The new strain of COVID-19, the most infectious yet that has prompted renewed global caution in recent weeks, continues to assert its dominance in the New York City area, as the CDC released Friday’s latest The data indicate that control is being lost on the nation as a whole.
That XBB.1.5 strain, another Omicron lineage, is a highly infectious “recombinant” derived from two different, earlier Omicron subvariants. Both of them were considered more transmissible than their predecessors at the time of their release, and the resulting fusion, XBB.1.5, is considered to be much more potent in terms of infectivity.
In the agency’s New York region, which also includes New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, XBB.1.5 accounts for about 73% of cases and 81.2% of virus transmissions, according to the CDC’s Friday update.
Both percentages have increased significantly since the last CDC weekly update, which now includes the revised data (estimated prevalence of 59.6% with a peak of 70.3% for the week ending 12/31/2022). In other words, the high grade estimate for XBB.1.5 in New York last week doesn’t even cover where the CDC thinks its stake is now.
What’s so special about this? The scientists say that XBB.1.5 has a mutation that makes it more efficient at binding to human cells, which could make it better at infecting people than previous variants, which include a large number of strains that have not been found before. Years descended from Omicron and changed.
New York City’s positivity rate is confirming concerns of transmissibility, with more than a third of neighborhoods in the five boroughs now seeing those numbers above 20%, with some places exceeding 30% positivity. There is no evidence at this time that XBB.1.5 is more lethal or causes more severe COVID infections, and the fact that the city’s hospitalization rates have not changed dramatically even as transmission has increased .
The CDC’s Connecticut region, which includes Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, has changed significantly over the past week in terms of differential representation. The agency now estimates that XBB.1.5 accounts for up to 79.6% of circulating COVID there, up from a revised high of 67.3% a week ago.
Nationwide, the latest CDC figures mark a sharp reversal from last week’s trends, which put XBB.1.5 in about 40.5% of national cases (61% in the high range). Friday’s changes revise those numbers from last week to 18.3% and 32.8%, respectively, and put the current estimated prevalence of the variant at around 27.6%. It’s not even close to dominant.
While the public health threat has been largely controlled through vaccination and boosters, and this variant, being more equipped to become infected, may not make people sick, the CDC and World Health Organization Expressed concern about the rate. throughout the northeastern United States.
Dr. Ashish Jha, head of the White House COVID-19 task force, addressed several points about XBB.1.5 in a long thread Twitter earlier this week. He added that the variant is “probably” more immunogenic than its predecessors and may be “more infectious”. He also emphasized that if you had an infection before July or were last vaccinated before the bivalent update in September, “your protection against XBB.1.5 infection is not as good.”
In New York, state data shows COVID hospitalizations are at a six-month high and the rolling positivity rate (8.7% as of last update) is at its highest since August. Given the looming nurses’ strike and ongoing concerns about flu and RSV, the message is again to double down on protecting yourself and your loved ones.
Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said in a statement on Friday, “The COVID-19 virus has been constantly changing since it emerged.” “The new bivalent booster has been updated to address these changes, which is why it is so important that all New Yorkers age 6 months and older receive vital protection.”
“The booster provides significant protection against becoming seriously ill or being hospitalized, and according to the most recent data from the CDC, people who received the bivalent booster were less likely to develop COVID than non-vaccinated people.” They were 18 times less likely to die from COVID-19, McDonald added.
Governor Cathy Hochul also continues to encourage New Yorkers to get their bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters. To make an appointment for a booster, New Yorkers must contact their local pharmacy, county health department or health care provider; Go to Vaccines.gov; Text your zip code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.