Home / News / World /  COVID XBB.1.5 symptoms are more…: Experts sound caution on new Covid variant

The Omicron COVID variant continues to surprise us every few months with a much stronger and more immune evasive subvariant. And the newest cousin in the block is - XBB.1.5. 

The XBB.1.5 sub-variant makes up 40.5% of all COVID-19 cases in the US, and it has spread fast. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said 38 countries have reported XBB.1.5 cases, of which 82% have been reported in the US, 8% in Britain and 2% in Denmark. 

A study published in the journal Cell last month found that XBB.1 is 63 times less likely to be neutralised by existing antibodies than the BA.2 subvariant. It is also 49 times more resistant than the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which are currently dominant in Britain and several other countries.

What are the symptoms for sub-variant XBB.1.5?

So far the symptoms of XBB.1.5 seem to be more cold-like than flu-like, especially in people who have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 before, but it is too soon to say this definitively, as per a recent article in Gavi vaccine alliance. 

Meanwhile, Grace Roberts, a virologist at Leeds University in Britain, said there was "no cause to panic" about XBB.1.5. "I don't think we need to take any drastic action at present," she said, adding that it remained important for countries to monitor the subvariant's progress.

What should we remain cautious about XBB.1.5 variant?

Despite the fact that Omicron causes less severe disease and fewer hospitalisations than previous variants like alpha or delta but it is still a public health threat and vaccination is a critical measure to protect against it.

Although we are likely to see further waves of infection around the world, "that doesn 't have to translate into further waves of death, because our countermeasures [such as vaccines] continue to work," said WHO official Maria Van Kerkhove.

"Our concern is how transmissible it is," Van Kerkhove said earlier this year. XBB.1.5 has a mutation in the virus 's spike protein which means it can bind to cells better, which means it can replicate and spread more easily. 

The number of total Covid cases worldwide dropped by nine percent last week compared to the previous seven days, while deaths fell by 12 percent, according to the WHO, following a surge over the holiday period.


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