HOUSTON — A new COVID variant has the attention of health experts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the XBB1.5 COVID variant is rapidly spreading with more infections currently happening on the East Coast.
Experts say another winter COVID wave could be on its way to Texas.
The new variant is now considered the variant of concern and the CDC said it accounts for nearly 41% of confirmed cases nationwide, nearly doubling from the 22% reported around Christmas Eve.
The XBB1.5 variant isn't known to cause more severe illness, but it could be more evasive.
“We are seeing that, that new variant is accounting for about two-thirds to three-quarters of the COVID cases in New York and New England," said Dr. Peter Hotez with the Baylor College of Medicine. "The expectation is that even though it’s only about a quarter of the cases here in Texas, those numbers will start to go up and so we should expect another winter wave.”
Doctors said it’s not likely that this wave will be as blunt as previous winter covid waves like the Alpha wave of 2021 or the Omicron BA1 wave of 2022.
Health experts are encouraging people to stay on track with currently available vaccinations, particularly the bivalent boosters.
As COVID cases increase in the Houston area in the coming weeks, masking indoors and being mindful of your surroundings, especially if you have underlying conditions, can be key to avoiding illness.
For older individuals, doctors said to have a care plan in place with your physician and if you have symptoms, get started on Paxlovid.