Newest COVID-19 Variant XBB.1.5 most transmissible yet

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 3:12 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - XBB1.5 is the name of the newest COVID-19 variant. If you got COVID-19 recently, experts say it is likely the variant you got, and it’s very easily spread. The percentage of cases with this variant has jumped in the last couple weeks, but experts say it should be very similar to Omicron, which is a milder variant.

“Oh, my gosh, I got it. Am I gonna be OK?,” said Kalyne Henrichsen, who got COVID-19 right after the holidays.

“I honestly, like did not even think it would be on my radar,” Henrichsen said. Her boyfriend got it soon after, and he had never had COVID-19 before. He is still suffering from mild yet lingering symptoms.

“He had the body aches and the fever, but he didn’t have a sore throat at all. And he still has like a lingering sinus congestion. That has lasted for weeks,” Henrichsen said. An epidemiologist with UAB said variant XBB.1.5 is a subvariant of omicron, which means we should have a good handle on it.

“Meaning that it’s less, you know, less concerning compared to what we saw in 2020,” said Rachael Lee, Associate Professor in the division of infectious diseases at UAB. Lee said the variant has quickly overtaken others in the past couple of weeks.

“When we look at the number of types of variants that we see week over week, in the past week, there was a huge increase in this variants. So went from being essentially 0% to 40%,” Lee said. She explained the increase in cases and this variant is most likely due to holiday travel, even waiting in the airport.

“I think we’ll see when did the southwest stuff happened that happened in January, right around or right around Christmas time. This would be the perfect time that we would start seeing an increase in our number of cases,” Lee said. The tools for combating it are in our back pocket because of the last two years.

“We’ve got vaccines, we’ve got the omicron boosters. So what I’ve been telling patients is that if you haven’t, in the past six months either had COVID, or haven’t had a booster yet to go ahead and get that,” Lee said. Wearing a mask should help if you’re unsure what you have.

“Even small things that we may not think about like a little runny nose may be helpful to wear a mask around others until we know what exactly is going on with ourselves,” Lee said.

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