Coronavirus variant XBB.1.5 rises in the United States — is it a global threat?

Ewen Callaway in Nature:

New year, new variant. Just as scientists were getting to grips with the alphabet soup of SARS-CoV-2 variants circulating globally — your BQ.1.1, CH.1.1 and BF.7 — one lineage seems to be rising to the top, thanks to a peculiar new mutation.

The XBB.1.5 subvariant now makes up around 28% of US COVID-19 cases, according to projections from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and its prevalence is on the rise globally. In the Northeastern United States, it seems to have rapidly out-competed the menagerie of other immunity-dodging variants that were expected to circulate alongside one another this winter.

“It’s almost certainly going to dominate in the world. I cannot find a single competitor now. Everything else is incomparable,” says Yunlong Cao, an immunologist at Peking University in Beijing whose team is studying the properties of XBB.1.5 in the laboratory.

More here.