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Why COVID’s XBB.1.5 ‘Kraken’ Variant Is So Contagious

Please see this thread by Prof. Akiko Iwasaki @VirusesImmunity· Jan 2: “A very important and informative thread about why the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant is now dominating in the Northeast US and is expected to spread. Please protect yourselves and others by wearing N95 masks. I am truly concerned about the #longCOVID wave that follows this infection.”

Scientific American: “…A new, rapidly spreading variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, means a rise in new infections could be around the corner. And while it likely won’t skirt immunity completely, the variant could dodge some of our defenses thanks to a mutational boost. XBB.1.5—unofficially nicknamed “Kraken” by some scientists online—is an Omicron subvariant that has caught the attention of virologists in recent weeks because of its significant advantage in how fast it spreads. Research by computational virologist Trevor Bedford and his team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle suggests XBB.1.5 currently has a reproduction number of around 1.6, meaning that every person infected by this subvariant will, on average, go on to infect about 1.6 other people. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Nowcast estimates of variant proportions, XBB.1.5. is likely already among the most prevalent subvariants in the U.S.,” says Marlin Figgins, a University of Washington Ph.D. student working in Bedford’s lab. “It’s likely there will be an increase in cases in the short term, though this will depend on the extent of XBB.1.5’s advantage and the various factors affecting SARS-CoV-2 transmission in general.”

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