Omicron variant XBB-1.5 spreading quickly

LA CROSSE (WKBT) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the new COVID-19 Omicron variant, XBB.1.5, is spreading quickly and being closely monitored.

Lab studies report that the bivalent vaccine still protects against severe disease with this variant, but not as much for infection.

The XBB.1.5 variant comes from the Omicron variant B.A.2.

Locally, Mayo Clinic Health System experts say health officials are constantly monitoring the virus.

“CDC along with local public health officials and across the globe constantly monitor for these new variants,” said Mayo Infectious Disease Consultant Dr. Raj Palraj. “They monitor how the virus changes. And that’s why we’re able to see that [a] new variant is coming up.”

Dr. Palraj says this is the most contagious of all variants so far.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also says getting vaccinated will help reduce the virus’ ability to mutate going forward.