The Kraken: New ‘more transmissible’ Covid variant XBB.1.5 could bring wave of infections to UK, WHO warns

XBB.1.5 is a new Covid subvariant that was first detected in October - nicknamed The Kraken, it has surged through the US and Canada recently.

A new Covid variant detected worldwide is considered “more transmissible” by the World Health Organisation (WHO). XBB1.5 - which has been given the nickname of ‘The Kraken’ - has become the dominant strain of the virus in the US and could make its way to the United Kingdom.

A subvariant of Omicron, it has been found in 70 different countries and reportedly caused a surge of Covid cases in countries like India and Singapore. The first case of The Kraken was detected on American soil in September.

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Since its arrival in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) has found that it makes up 40.5% of all coronavirus cases in the country. Average hospitalisations have soared to 5,545 every seven days.

The symptoms for XBB.1.5 are almost identical to that of regular Covid with the most common being cold-like such as a runny nose, congestion, a sore throat and a cough. Medical advice from WHO and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is for the general population to stay up-to-date with their jabs to ensure that the new strain is “less severe.”

Virologist with University of Washington Medicine, Pavitra Roychoudhury, said: : “The public should be aware that there is a more transmissible variant out there, but they should also be aware that this is the season for all respiratory viruses to be circulating. Awareness is different from panic, so I think people should be aware that there is this on top of the other stuff circulating, but it is not necessarily something to panic about.”

The new variant is set to be more transmissible than Omicron (Adobe)The new variant is set to be more transmissible than Omicron (Adobe)
The new variant is set to be more transmissible than Omicron (Adobe)

There is yet to be a confirmed case of XBB.1.5 in the United Kingdom at the time of publication. For more information about how to immunise against the disease and to book any missing injections visit the NHS website.