WASHINGTON — A new COVID subvariant is surging across the D.C. region.
Omicron subvariant XBB 1.5 now makes up 28% of all COVID cases in the Mid-Atlantic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection.
Last week, that same subvariant held an 18% share of all COVID cases. It had 11% the week before that.
The World Health Organization declared the subvariant the most transmissible subvariant yet.
Dr. Jose Lucar, an associate professor in the division of infectious diseases at George Washington University, said this latest subvariant has a special mutation that helps it bind better to cells in the body.
“It also appears to evade immunity,” he said. “What that means is the immunity we've all built from either vaccination, or prior infection, or a combination of both, we're seeing more breakthrough cases.”
Fortunately, the new subvariant does not appear to make people any sicker than the omicron variant that surged across the country one year ago.
“For the most part, people are having pretty similar symptoms that previous omicron variants and subvariants presented,” Lucar said. “Such as sore throat, runny nose, fatigue.”
He said while this latest subvariant does evade immunity, it’s still a good idea for people to get their shots to avoid severe illness if they contract COVID.