FAQ's about the COVID-19 Omicron Sub-variant 'XBB.1.5'

Jan. 17, 2023

Before the new year, we discussed the “tripledemic,” the simultaneous transmission of COVID-19, Flu, and RSV. In recent weeks, there has been a decline in the number of flu and RSV cases, although the new COVID-19 sub-variant has caused an increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the nation. The CDC has projected that about 40% of confirmed U.S. COVID-19 cases are caused by the XBB.1.5 subvariant. We have answered some Frequently Asked Questions about the XBB.1.5 subvariant.

What’s the difference between this subvariant and others?

  • The XBB.1.5 subvariant contains more mutations than previous variants and subvariants, allowing it to better avoid the immune system’s defenses. This means that even if you have been fully vaccinated and boosted or had a previous COVID-19 infection, XBB1.5 can still cause infection. Due to its mutations and ability to avoid the immune system, this subvariant is more transmissible than any other variant.

Does XBB1.5 make people sicker than previous COVID-19 variants?

  • So far, there is no evidence that the new variant makes individuals sicker than earlier versions of the coronavirus. 

How can I protect myself from XBB.1.5?

  • The same precautions used to protect from other variants of COVID-19 can be applied when protecting against XBB.1.5. Avoid crowded situations with poor ventilation, get a COVID-19 test regularly, and wear a mask. Fortunately, most of these precautions will also protect you from getting RSV or the flu.