Should we worry about Covid's new XBB.1.5 'Kraken' variant? Analysts answers

The XBB.1.5 (kraken) variant, which has become the dominant variant in the US, has been detected in many countries. According to WHO, XBB.1.5 is the most infectious subvariant ever detected. Analysts now answer the questions about this variant.

Should we worry about Covid's new XBB.1.5 'Kraken' variant? Analysts answers
Dr. Leana Wen answers the questions about Kraken.

A new variant of Covid, first detected last year, quickly became the dominant variant in the US and became known as the 'Kraken' variant.

XBB.1.5 is one of the Omicron XBB sub-branches and is a mix of the two previous strains, BA.2.75 and BA.2.10.1. The original XBB variant has already caused waves of infections in countries including Singapore and India after WHO raised concerns last October.

What should we know about Kraken variant? Dr. Leana Wen answers

XBB1.5 Kraken variant

The CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, public health expert, an emergency physician, and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. has spoken to CNN and answered the questions about the new dominant virus. Wen said:

"People should not be surprised that there is a new variant. The more viruses replicate, the more they mutate. Most mutations do not confer evolutionary advantage and won’t spread further, but some do."

"There are three key questions to ask about new variants. First, is it more contagious? Second, does it cause more serious disease? And third, is it more immune-evasive, meaning it undercuts the protection of existing vaccines and treatments?"

"The mutations XBB.1.5 has acquired have made it more contagious. A more transmissible strain has the evolutionary advantage that it will spread faster than others, and therefore could displace other strains. This is a trend seen throughout the coronavirus pandemic — new, even more transmissible strains replacing their predecessors and becoming dominant."

Should we worry about Kraken variant?

"It depends on the individual. There are many people who are not concerned about contracting Covid-19. They may be young and healthy and unlikely to become severely ill due to the coronavirus. Maybe they have just recovered from a previous infection and are protected against serious illness for several months. Or maybe the downside of continuing precautions is significant to them. I don’t think it’s wrong for people to proceed with their pre-pandemic routines, considering that XBB.1.5 is not likely to be the last variant of concern we see — and that it doesn’t appear to cause more severe disease."

"On the other hand, there are many people who are worried about becoming severely ill from Covid-19. People who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions should speak with their physician about their risk of severe illness due to Covid-19. If they are at high risk even after getting the bivalent booster, they should consider additional precautions to avoid infection while this highly transmissible variant is circulating. That includes asking others to take a rapid test prior to socializing and wearing a high-quality N95 or equivalent mask while in crowded indoor places."