What’s kraken? 4 things to know about the new XBB.1.5 COVID variant

The XBB.1.5 version, commonly referred to as “kraken,” is demonstrating a rapid rise in hospitalization rates in certain areas of the United States.

1. The kraken mutation seems to undergo a distinct evolutionary process compared to earlier variations.

The gryphon variant is a descendant of the XBB variant, nicknamed kraken.

The initial documented instance of a variant of SARS-CoV-2, which evolved from the combination of two genetically distinct viruses, caused significant outbreaks in Asia during the fall.

2. Rates of hospitalization are increasing quickly in regions where the kraken variant is spreading.

The omicron variant and the initial COVID-19 virus are being observed at levels similar to those found in individuals aged 70 and older who were impacted early on by kraken in various regions of the United States. There is a significant increase in hospital admissions being witnessed.

According to James Lawler, MD, an infectious diseases expert at Nebraska Medicine, “The rate of hospitalization is increasing among people of all age groups, but particularly among those who are most susceptible and are over the age of 70.” “The current surge in hospitalizations is one of the sharpest increases in hospitalization rates that we have observed throughout the entire pandemic.”

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3. The spread of the kraken variant is considerably greater than that of previous variants.

In 2020 and 2021, we came across strains of SARS-CoV-2 that have lower transmission rates compared to the kraken variant. Gryphon is not transmitted as readily between individuals as the kraken variant, which is relatively recent.

Believed to be kraken, more than 27% of recent infections in the United States are, according to the latest data from last week. In regions where it is spreading, the percentage of the kraken variant is increasing twofold every week.

A graph showing that the kraken variant currently makes up about 27% of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S.

This means that the variant is better at evading immunity prior. The variant kraken appears to induce antibodies that are more resistant to vaccination and prior immunity.

4. The kraken mutation is expected to spread throughout the Midwest in a matter of weeks.

Texas and California are beginning to witness an increase. At present, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, and North Carolina, which are located in the Eastern states, are encountering a swift surge in hospital admission rates.

The mutation is spreading and will inevitably affect the Midwest.

A graph showing that the kraken variant currently makes up about 71% of new COVID-19 infections in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones

While it is comprehensible that numerous individuals are fatigued of coping with concerns related to COVID-19, it is not the time to ease up on our caution.

The best way to prevent hospitalization and infection is by practicing proven strategies to keep public health. This includes protecting your community and family by wearing a mask in crowded indoor areas and staying up-to-date with vaccinations, as well as practicing healthy practices.

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According to Dr. Lawler, “In terms of vaccination, our level of protection is lower now compared to before. A significant number of individuals have not yet been vaccinated over the past year. If you have not been recently vaccinated or have not received the bivalent vaccine, your level of protection is not sufficient. Even if you had a previous infection within the last six months, you are still highly vulnerable to the XBB.1.5 variant.”

Despite the emergence of new strains, individuals who have kept up with their COVID-19 immunizations will still be safeguarded against severe illness, hospitalization, and mortality, as indicated by the available evidence. It is imperative to enhance vaccination and booster rates within our community and the entire nation.

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