The New XBB.1.5 Variant: What You Need to Know
There is a new variant rampaging through the world, and experts are alerting to its dangers. XBB.1.5 has quickly risen to dominance in multiple states in the US, the UK, and elsewhere, causing the WHO to advise travelers to mask up during flight, and urging some to reinstate mask mandates and keep children home if sick. The reason for the alarm surrounding the new variant has to do with its unprecedented ability to evade immune detection—rendering existing immunity nearly useless—and to transmit at extremely high rates. One of the ways XBB.1.5 is superior to prior variants is in its binding affinity for the ACE2 receptor. This means that XBB.1.5 is much more efficient at using the ACE2 receptor to enter cells and begin replication. This is bad news for those infected, as ACE2 is present in multiple tissues throughout the body. In turn, this means that tissues and organs, readily susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, are highly vulnerable to this variant. Its exceptional ability to infect may mean that less virus is needed to lead to symptomatic or severe illness. Rising cases are quickly filling up hospitals– evidence that XBB.1.5 can lead to serious disease for many. Repeat COVID infections place individuals at a higher risk for chronic health decline and long COVID.
To get a better understanding of the gravity of the ongoing case surge, we invited Dr. Eric-Feigl Ding, a Harvard epidemiologist, health economist, and WHN co-founder, and Dr. David Berger, an emergency physician, to join our broadcast last week. You can listen to their expert in-depth analysis and subscribe to our channel here. And remember, it is our responsibility to protect each other and our communities. Mask, avoid social gatherings, stay home if you are experiencing symptoms, and test if you suspect exposure. Refrain from travel or always travel with a high quality N95 mask on. Together, we can stop the spread.
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📣📣📺 Tune in for our conversation with Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding and Dr. David Berger and learn the latest on the highly transmissible and immune-evasive XBB.1.5 variant.
Alarming antibody evasion properties of rising SARS-CoV-2 BQ and XBB subvariants (Cell)
Biden administration extends public health emergency as XBB.1.5 spreads (CNBC)
Schools Against COVID-19
Michigan schools reinstate mask requirements (Detroit Free Press)
UMass Boston and Chelsea schools reinstate mask mandates (WBUR)
Schools in NJ and PA join the mask requirement trend (Spectrum News NY)
Families win court fight against schools unwilling to provide reasonable accommodations and protect vulnerable children from COVID (Yahoo News)
Yosemite National Park reinstating mask mandate due to high COVID-19 levels (Yahoo news)
Long COVID poses significant risks to brain health (University of Melbourne)
Evidence for increased risk of stroke in children with prior COVID-19 infection (Pediatric Neurology)
COVID is linked to changes in monocytes and promotes clotting (prothrombotic state) (Nature)
Long Covid may be ‘the next public health disaster’ — with a $3.7 trillion economic impact (CNBC)