Omicron variant XBB.1.5 is considered to be highly contagious by scientists, which means previous vaccinations or natural antibodies from having the sickness could be less effective against the variant.

But does the nickname of a mythical sea creature —“Kraken” — actually match the severity of the spreading disease?

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, posted on Twitter Jan. 4 that experts are doing their best to answer three questions: “Is it more immune evasive?”, “Is it more inherently contagious?” and “Is it more virulent/dangerous?”

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Is XBB.1.5 more immune evasive?

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported that yes, XBB.1.5 is more immune evasive, meaning that it is more likely to bypass the body’s immune response.

So it’s expected that antibodies from previous vaccinations and illnesses might not protect the body and could result in more people getting sick. But it’s proven that vaccinations can reduce severe effects.

Is XBB.1.5 more contagious?

Omicron’s variant XBB.1.5 has been spreading quickly as numbers were said to be quickly rising to nearly half the reported COVID-19 cases in the United States, originally reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the CDC recently revised this large percentage of overall cases in the United States and it is now estimated to be less than half, per the readjusted numbers, as reported by Deseret News. While the numbers have been revised, scientists still say the variant is spreading more quickly than most.

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New omicron variant XBB.1.5 emerges, driving a surge in northeast U.S.

“XBB.1.5 is growing in proportion,” said the CDC in their update on Friday. “All other virus lineages are predicted to have very slow or no growth in proportion.”

This matches the reach of the variant’s rising nickname, Kraken, and its many mythical tentacles. But it might not be any worse symptom-wise than any other variant.

What are the symptoms of XBB.1.5?

The severity of the symptoms is still unknown and being tested, but can be comparable to other disease strains scientists have seen.

“Viruses typically mutate to become more contagious and less severe; it appears that this is happening with this strain of the coronavirus,” Henry Redel — the chief of infectious disease at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey — told HuffPost.

More severe symptoms, like loss of taste and smell or shortness of breath, are characteristic of earlier COVID-19 variants, but XBB.1.5 is thought to be more associated with more common symptoms, such as body aches and congestion, reported HuffPost.

Al.com added headaches to this list.

Other symptoms of previous variants are not impossible and could accompany the main symptoms.

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