New immune-evading ‘Kraken’ variant of COVID-19 discovered in Central Texas

Source AP: First case of micron variant detected in the US.

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Central Texas saw an increase in COVID-19 cases last week, leading Austin Public Health to upgrade the Travis County community from low to medium, with the county identifying the XBB.1 omicron strain. Now another highly contagious omicron variant has been discovered.

A sub-variant of XBB.1.5, named “Kraken” after the legendary colossal sea monster, was discovered in the Austin-Travis County area. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant accounts for 27.6% of cases in the United States and has the highest number of immune evading mutations of any other identified variant.

Antiviral agents have proven effective against XBB variants, although the Food and Drug Administration does not believe that treatment with monoclonal antibodies such as Evushield will eliminate XBB.1.5.

“XBB.1.5 is similar to other sub-options that are not being neutralized by Evusheld, meaning we have fewer tools to prevent serious illness from COVID-19,” APH said in a statement.

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