Public health experts are concerned about the emergence of XBB.1.5, a subvariant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. This strain has been rapidly increasing in the United States, now comprising an estimated 40.5% of all Covid-19 cases. With the holiday season bringing lowered Covid-19 precautions in many areas, there is fear that this strain could lead to a surge in Covid-19 cases.
The XBB variant, which has already spread to over 70 countries, is believed to be the source of the XBB.1.5 subvariant. There is evidence that the XBB.1.5 may be able to evade antibodies generated by Covid-19 vaccination or prior Covid-19 infections. To protect against the XBB.1.5, public health experts advise layering preventative measures such as wearing a high quality face mask, improving ventilation, using air filtration, testing, and vaccination. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent Covid-19 mRNA boosters provide protection against the XBB variant, and it is recommended that those who have not yet received the bivalent booster do so as soon as possible.
In order to reduce the spread of the XBB.1.5 and other variants of SARS-CoV-2, it is essential that people continue to take Covid-19 precautions even with the bivalent booster. By following the advice of public health experts and layering preventative measures, everyone can help protect themselves and those around them against the XBB.1.5 variant.