This 'alarming' subvariant now accounts for 75 percent of new COVID-19 infections in the northeastern US: CDC
Three years have passed since the COVID-19 pandemic began to attack the United States. Reports on what came to be called COVID-19 came from Wuhan, China in December 2019, and on January 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first reported that it had “confirmed the first case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the United States in the state of Washington.”
Since it began three years ago, COVID-19 has, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, killed more than 6.6 million people worldwide — including over one million in the United States. COVID-19 continues to be highly contagious in early 2023, but at this point, it isn’t nearly as deadly as it was in 2020 and 2021. Millions of people have been vaccinated and the majority of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. are not fatal and do not require hospitalization.
COVID-19, in 2022, was dominated by its Omicron variant and the various Omicron subvariants. According to CNN reporter Brenda Goodman, the subvariant XBB.1.5 has become increasingly prominent — so prominent, in fact, that the CDC is now attributing 75 percent of new COVID-19 infections in the northeastern U.S. to XBB.1.5.
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Goodman, in an article published on CNN’s website on January 3, explains, “On Friday, (December 30), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 variant dashboard revealed a new dark horse that could soon sweep the field: XBB.1.5. The CDC estimates that XBB.1.5 has more than doubled its share of the COVID-19 pie each week for the last four, rising from about 4 percent to 41 percent of new infections over the month of December. In the Northeast, the CDC estimates, XBB.1.5 is causing 75 percent of new cases.”
Pavitra Roychoudhury of the University of Washington School of Medicine's virology lab in Seattle told CNN, “For a few months now, we haven't seen a variant that's taken off at that speed.”
XBB.1.5, according to Goodman, was “first detected in New York and Connecticut in late October.”
Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle told CNN, “I expect (XBB.1.5) to drive increased circulation in the coming weeks…. So, I'd look to hospitalizations in the vulnerable age groups (such as seniors) as better indicator of wave.”
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Dr. David Ho, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University in New York City, has described the behavior of XBB.1.5 as “alarming” and, according to Goodman, fears that the subvariant may have the ability to dodge the protections offered by COVID-19 vaccines, booster shots and antibodies.
Andrew Pekosz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health noted that because of holiday travel, “most public health officials would have expected an increase in COVID-19 cases, even before we knew about XBB.1.5.”
“So, whether the increases in COVID cases that are occurring during the holidays are occurring because of the social interactions that people have had or whether they're specifically related to XBB.1.5 is still something that isn't clear,” Pekosz told CNN. “Both of those things are probably contributing.”
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