What You Need to Know About the Kraken Covid Variant – WIRED

by | Jan 12, 2023 | COVID-19

Since Omicron became the world’s dominant Covid variant, it’s taken on a lot of shapes. First there was BA.1, then BA.5, and eventually others, including BQ.1 and BQ.1.1. Now all eyes are on another scrambled string of letters and numbers—XBB.1.5, also known as the Kraken, which has swept the northeastern US in recent weeks.The World Health Organization (WHO) has deemed XBB.1.5 the most transmissible version of the Omicron variant to date and announced that countries should consider recommending masks for risky situations, like flights. It’s quickly becoming dominant in parts of the US, and some experts are worried it may be able to dodge immunity from past infections and possibly vaccines.Any time a new variant snowballs so quickly, it garners attention. Significant variations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can mean more illness, hospitalizations, and death, which can strain health care systems and increase rates of long Covid. While XBB.1.5 infections are swelling, the WHO says there’s no evidence that this variant’s mutations would result in more severe infections—but it’s still early. In the US, Covid hospitalizations are ticking upward but are nowhere near their early 2022 peaks. Still, the rise of a fast-moving variant puts attention back on an ongoing problem: how vaccines should be updated. “For a while now, we haven’t seen a sublineage that’s taken off at that speed, so that’s another sign that this one might be worth watching for,” says Pavitra Roychoudhury, director of Covid-19 sequencing at the University of Washington Virology Lab. Roychoudhury says it’s important to get eyes on variants early to identify them and consider how to design future vaccines: “Until the time when we have a vaccine that will be effective against all variants, we’ll have to try and design them based on what is likely to be circulating at high frequency.” This variant is a sub …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This