The COVID-19 omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 is quickly becoming the dominant strain in the United States. In the past week, it has doubled its spread. Now 41% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. consist of it.
CNBC reported Friday that the new variant is more effective at avoiding vaccine protection than other variants. The report notes that the XBB subvariant family has many mutations. And such mutations could render the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the boosters designed to fight XBB or omicron, less effective.
Andrew Pekosz, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University, said XBB.1.5 differs from its family members because it has an additional mutation that binds it to cells better.
"The virus," Pekosz said, "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."
Earlier this month, scientists at Columbia University published a study in the journal Cell. They warned that the rise of subvariants, such as XBB, could "further compromise the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines and result in a surge of breakthrough infections as well as re-infections."
They further added that the resistance of these subvariants to antibodies from vaccination and infection was "alarming."
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