New Omicron variant begins spreading in Iowa
The XBB.1.5 COVID-19 subvariant — a new version of the Omicron variant — is slowly growing in Iowa.
State of play: XBB.1.5 makes up about 28% of COVID cases in the country and is the fourth most prevalent strain here in Iowa.
- In the northeast region of the U.S., it makes up almost 75% of cases.
The intrigue: XBB.1.5 is different from previous variants because it can attach itself better to cells, CNBC reports.
- "The virus needs to bind tightly to cells to be more efficient at getting in and that could help the virus be a little bit more efficient at infecting people," Andrew Pekosz, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University, told CNBC.
Of note: There do not appear to be any additional COVID-19 symptoms tied to XBB.1.5.
- "There's no suggestion at this point that XBB.1.5 is more severe," Dr. Barbara Mahon of the CDC, told CBS News.
Yes, but: Scientists said it has mutations that could allow the virus to evade COVID-19 vaccine boosters and cause more breakthrough infections, according to CNBC.
- In October, the XBB subvariant was deemed best suited to evade COVID-19 immunity, Axios' Erin Doherty reported.
What's next: Hospitals and medical facilities were inundated prior to the holidays in December, but infections and hospitalizations have dipped down now in January.
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