The latest COVID variant – XBB.1.5 – is now accounts for almost half of the cases in the U.S. and is expected to soon become the predominant strain, according to health officials.
The Alabama Department of Public Health said XBB.1.5 has overtaken other omicron subvariants that were dominant in the fall, accounting for 40% nationally and up to 75% of new cases in northeastern states.
At this point, XBB.1.5 is not known to be more severe than other variants and health officials continue to urge vaccinations as a way to help prevent serious illnesses and hospitalizations. A decrease in transmission of the virus means fewer opportunities for it to mutate, which can help prevent other contagious variants from emerging, they added.
Infections with XBB.1.5 appear to carry many of the same symptoms as previous omicron variants – fatigue, runny nose, sneezing and muscle aches. Evidence points that the most prevalent symptoms of XBB.1.5 are body aches, congestion, and a headache. This can be accompanied by fever, chills, cough and sore throat.
Seen less often are loss of taste and smell, both common symptoms of earlier variants such as delta and alpha.
Where to get a COVID vaccination
Information about recommended COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for individuals is available at the following website: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html
To find COVID-19 vaccination locations near you, search vaccines.gov, text your zip code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233.