A new variant of SARS-COV-2 is causing concern. It has become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the United States. Currently, it is present in at least 28 other countries, say specialists from the World Health Organization (WHO), led by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. What is the Kraken variant of Covid and how dangerous it really is.
What is the Kraken version of Covid
The Kraken strain is the latest subvariant of the coronavirus identified by specialists. It derives from the Omicron variant and is officially called XBB.1.5. In the first phase, this variant of the coronavirus was responsible for only 1% of the cases of the disease registered at the beginning of December 2022. Now, the situation is worrying.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the Kraken variant is currently responsible for 41% of infections. Within four weeks, the strain had spread surprisingly far. In areas of the northeastern US, over 70% of illnesses are caused by the Kraken.
“XBB.1.5 is the most transmissible subvariant that has been detected to date,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, told a press conference.
Apart from the United States, the new variant of the coronavirus has also been identified in 28 other countries. Health authorities warn that it could be much more widespread. The number of tests against the coronavirus has decreased significantly, which is why Kraken could go unreported.
How dangerous is XBB.1.5
“We are concerned about its growth lead, particularly in some countries in Europe and the US in the northeastern part of the United States, where XBB.1.5 has quickly replaced other circulating variants.
Our concern is how transmissible it is. The longer this virus circulates, the more opportunities it will have to change,” said Maria Van Kerkhove.
Scientists have not identified significant differences between Kraken and previous variants of the coronavirus. Instead, the strain has the ability to defy natural immunity or previous protection provided by vaccines. Therefore, people who have already been infected with the coronavirus can be reinfected with the new variant.
In a recent article published in the journal Cell, scientists warn that the XBB subvariants of the coronavirus pose “serious threats”. That’s because vaccines don’t work against them.
Data on the severity of the Kraken variant is currently limited. Researchers do not know exactly how much it influences the development of serious diseases, nor how big an impact it has on mortality. Previous methods of combating the coronavirus have proven to be ineffective against the strains that can represent a danger, according to the WHO.