Omicron XBB variant now dominant in New England

COVID-19 had a Christmas surprise for New England. Data from the week ending on Christmas Eve shows a new strain of the virus had rapidly overtaken all others to become the dominant coronavirus strain in the region. The variant named XBB has been tracked in New England for months, but data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows it remained responsible for a small percentage of overall cases until recently. As of the week ending Dec. 3, the CDC data shows XBB was responsible for 11.1% of cases. That almost doubled to 20.2% in the following week and grew to 34.3% for the week after that. As of the week ending Dec. 24, the CDC reported that XBB was responsible for 52.6% of cases in New England. According to a World Health Organization statement issued in October, XBB is a recombinant of two previous omicron sublineages. Based on information available at that time, the WHO said early evidence suggested XBB infections were not substantially more severe than other subvariants. “There is, however, early evidence pointing to a higher reinfection risk, as compared to other circulating Omicron sublineages,” the WHO wrote. Nationwide, other strains remain dominant, but the percentage of XBB variant cases has grown significantly. The CDC reports that XBB is responsible for 18.3% of cases in the week ending on Dec. 24, up from 4.2% during the week ending on Dec. 3.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 IGlmICggZGl2RWxlbWVudC5vZmZzZXRXaWR0aCA+==

COVID-19 had a Christmas surprise for New England. Data from the week ending on Christmas Eve shows a new strain of the virus had rapidly overtaken all others to become the dominant coronavirus strain in the region.

The variant named XBB has been tracked in New England for months, but data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows it remained responsible for a small percentage of overall cases until recently.

As of the week ending Dec. 3, the CDC data shows XBB was responsible for 11.1% of cases. That almost doubled to 20.2% in the following week and grew to 34.3% for the week after that.

As of the week ending Dec. 24, the CDC reported that XBB was responsible for 52.6% of cases in New England.

According to a World Health Organization statement issued in October, XBB is a recombinant of two previous omicron sublineages. Based on information available at that time, the WHO said early evidence suggested XBB infections were not substantially more severe than other subvariants.

“There is, however, early evidence pointing to a higher reinfection risk, as compared to other circulating Omicron sublineages,” the WHO wrote.

Nationwide, other strains remain dominant, but the percentage of XBB variant cases has grown significantly. The CDC reports that XBB is responsible for 18.3% of cases in the week ending on Dec. 24, up from 4.2% during the week ending on Dec. 3.

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