The holidays have come and gone, but Covid-19 infections still linger as a subvariant of the Omicron strain is rising in the US, including the Northeast.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the XBB.1.5 variant has been spreading since the end of November and now making up about 40% of nationwide cases. In the Northeast region, which includes Vermont and New Hampshire, the new subvariant makes up about 75% of recorded cases.
The Vermont Department of Health says it detected the XBB variant at low levels, according to data collected between December 18 and December 24.
Dr. Timothy Lahey, an Infectious disease physician with UVM Medical Center, expects to see Vermont follow the same pattern as the rest of the country.
“Whenever a variant becomes the predominant variant in a region replacing some other prior version, you know that that variant therefore has to be pretty contagious,” he said. “The emergence of a new variant is not something I want people to be overly concerned about. It’s expected. More variants are going to come after this one.”
According to Lahey, officials don’t know if XBB makes people any more susceptible to developing severe diseases, but early information suggests the variant is less likely to respond to synthetic antibodies used to treat COVID-19. Lahey also added it’s important to pay attention to the transmission levels in your community and urges those to wear a mask and stay up to date on vaccines.