New COVID Strain Taking Over the United States, Reports the CDC
Patriot Medical Devices
There is a new variant of the COVID-19 virus, called XBB.1.5, circulating in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The subvariant, which is a relative of the XBB variant, has raised concerns about another potential surge of cases following the holiday travel season. The CDC estimates that around 40% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US are caused by XBB.1.5, up from 20% a week ago. In the Northeast region of the country, around 75% of confirmed cases are XBB.1.5. It is not yet clear where this variant originated, but it appears to be spreading quickly. It is not believed to cause more severe illness than other strains of the virus.
XBB.1.5 Better at Avoiding Vaccine
There are concerns that XBB.1.5 may be more adept at evading the antibodies produced by vaccines and previous infections. The XBB variant has been found in at least 70 countries and has caused outbreaks in parts of Asia, including India and Singapore. Studies have shown that the XBB variant can evade antibodies from previous infections or vaccines, meaning that people who have been exposed to the virus may be more likely to become sick or reinfected and display symptoms. It is not yet known if current vaccines are effective against XBB.1.5.
The graphic above shows a climb of new COVID cases in the United States, and some predict the increase in cases is only just beginning. With a new highly contagious variant entering the U.S. it is important to remember how to keep yourself or your staff safe and healthy during the winter season.
How Masks Play Their Part
Wearing masks is an important preventive measure to help slow the spread of XBB.1.5 and other strains of the COVID-19 virus. Masks work by blocking respiratory droplets that may contain the virus, which can be emitted when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. By wearing a mask, you can protect others from being exposed to the virus. In addition, masks can help protect you by reducing the amount of virus that you inhale. It is important to wear a mask that covers both your nose and mouth and to use it consistently and correctly. Masks should be washed or replaced regularly, and you should avoid touching your mask or face while wearing it. Other preventive measures, such as social distancing and frequent hand washing, should also be followed to help slow the spread of XBB.1.5 and other strains of the virus.