kraken covid variant sweeping northeast us

A new variant of the virus that causes COVID has mutations that make it more transmissible, but vaccines are still likely to protect against severe disease.

A new, rapidly spreading variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, means a rise in new infections could be around the corner. And while it likely won’t skirt immunity completely, the variant could dodge some of our defenses thanks to a mutational boost.

Thankfully, your existing Omicron vaccine will still help- despite being a few dozen mutations away from the subvariant BA.5, which dominated last summer, XBB.1.5 is still a form of Omicron and not some completely new SARS-CoV-2 variant. It is also very similar to its parent lineage, XBB—itself a combination of two lineages descended from the subvariant BA.2 that dominated last spring.

If you have not been vaccinated, are over age 65 or immune compromised, please take extra precautions, including wearing a mask.