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Covid Variant XBB.1.5 Accounts for 41% of New US Cases; Can Resist Antibodies, Challenge Vaccines

By: Shankhyaneel Sarkar


Last Updated: December 31, 2022, 09:28 IST

New Delhi

Covid Variant XBB.1.5 Accounts for 41% of New US Cases; Can Resist Antibodies, Challenge Vaccines

Scientists were alarmed after seeing that Covid omicron XBB.1.5 variant appeared resistant to antibody cocktail Evushield and also can challenge the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines

Scientists have sounded the alarm over the Covid omicron XBB.1.5 variant after it became one of the rising variants in the United States, representing about 41% of the new cases in the country, news agency CNBC reported.

The report says the Covid omicron XBB.1.5 variant is highly immune evasive and appears to be more effective when it comes to binding with cells, compared to other sub-variants.

The Covid cases caused by the XBB.1.5 doubled over the past week, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released on Friday.


The omicron variant was prevalent in 21.7% of the cases last week, compared to the 41% this week.

Researchers and scientists fear that the Covid-19 vaccines and the omicron boosters could be rendered ineffective due to the XBB.1.5 variant.

It also has the ability to cause even more breakthrough infections.

Scientists across the world have been monitoring the XBB subvariant family for months since the strain has many mutations.

XBB was first identified in August and has evolved into a family of sub-variants which include XBB.1 and XBB.1.5.

An expert speaking to CNBC said XBB.1.5 stands out because it has an additional mutation which increases its ability to bind with cells.

Scientists from the Columbia University in a journal article published earlier this year warned that the rise of sub-variants such as XBB challenges the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines and lead to breakthrough infections and reinfections.

The report by CNBC also outlined citing experts that the XBB sub-variants are resistant to Evusheld, an antibody cocktail that patients with weak immune systems rely on when they are infected with Covid-19.

A separate report by the Hill said that XBB.1.5 now accounts for the majority of Covid-19 cases in northeastern United States.

It has caused 75% cases in the New England and New York tri-state area. Scripps Research Institute professor of molecular medicine Eric Topol said that it was possible that XBB.1.5 could have mutated in New York.

Scientists are alarmed after seeing XBB.1.5’s ability to resist antibodies from vaccination and infection.

They also found that the XBB sub-variants were even more effective at dodging protection from the omicron boosters than the BQ sub-variants, the CNBC report said.

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first published:December 31, 2022, 09:24 IST
last updated:December 31, 2022, 09:28 IST