A new COVID-19 subvariant — XBB.1.5, known as the “Kraken” variant — is quickly spreading through the United States and could soon become the dominant COVID strain circulating in the United States, according to multiple media reports including The New York Times.

“It looks like XBB.1.5 is a cut above the other Omicron subvariants in terms of getting around our defenses, and it’s also a very transmissible virus,” the Times reports.

So XBB gave rise to XBB.1, and then XBB.1 mutated again into XBB.1.5. And it looks like XBB.1.5 gained a really crucial mutation that helps it grab tightly onto cells, which makes it more transmissible on top of doing a better job of escaping antibodies. So it looks really concerning. And in places like the northeastern US, it’s the fastest-growing variant out there.

Read more at www.nytimes.com

According to Scientific American, the new Kraken subvariant “is highly transmissible while retaining Omicron’s ability to evade the immune system.”

However, some infectious disease experts don’t believe there’s cause for alarm over the Kraken subvariant.

Jake Scott, a clinical assistant professor of infectious diseases at Stanford University, is not concerned about XBB.1.5 yet. “I believe it is clear that all the subvariants of Omicron are intrinsically less likely to lead to severe disease because they’re less likely to lead to lower respiratory tract disease,” he says. “Yes, the Omicron subvariants are quite transmissible, and yes, XBB.1.5 is the most transmissible of the Omicron subvariants, so it is possible that it will lead to a rise in cases. But I really have no concern that it is going to lead to a rise in hospitalizations and deaths that are solely due to COVID.”

Read more at www.scientificamerican.com