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Is XBB.1.5 the ‘most transmissible COVID variant’ to date? Here’s what we know

The XBB.1.5, in particular, is widely circulating in New York City, responsible for 73% of the cases sequenced

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An illustration of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

An illustration of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

Alex Cochran, Deseret News

Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 became the dominant strain of COVID-19 quickly. Within a span of nearly a month, it became the strain behind 43% of reported cases.

Experts haven’t seen a variant take off at that speed in a while, as I previously reported for the Deseret News. The XBB.1.5, in particular, is widely circulating in New York City, responsible for 73% of the cases sequenced, according to NBC New York.

Here’s what we know about the latest variant of concern.

Is new omicron variant XBB.1.5 more transmissible?

The New York City Health Department called the new strain “the most transmissible form of COVID-19 that we know of to date,” adding that it will likely infect those who are vaccinated or had a previous infection.

The department advised getting vaccinated and receiving the updated booster shot to reduce the chances of hospitalization or death.

Do vaccines work against XBB.1.5 variant?

A study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the XBB.1.5 variant has the ability to evade the body’s immune response, as Rebecca Olds reported for the Deseret News.

The White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told CNN’s Kate Bolduan that the available data indicates “if you’ve been vaccinated, if you’ve gotten that updated bivalent booster, you’re still going to have a good amount of protection.”

What are the symptoms of XBB.1.5?

The severity of this strain is unknown but it is comparable to other omicron strains. As I previously reported, COVID-19 symptoms have evolved over time.

Here is a list of all common symptoms as of late:

  • A sore throat.
  • A runny nose.
  • A blocked nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • A cough without phlegm.
  • A headache.
  • A cough with phlegm.
  • A hoarse voice.
  • Muscle aches and pains.
  • An altered sense of smell.