The latest news for the U.S. when it comes to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is … “Release the Kraken!”
(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
The “Kraken” is the unofficial name some scientists online are calling XBB.1.5, the latest subvariant of Omicron, and the most transmissible yet.
Currently, XBB.1.5 accounts for approximately 27.6% of new cases in the U.S. In the Northeast, however, it accounts for more than 70% of cases. While experts are predicting a spike in cases in the U.S., they don’t believe it’ll lead to a rise in hospitalizations or death caused solely by COVID-19.
XBB.1.5. has the ability, like its parent virus XBB, to evade the human body’s immune system, but not completely.
“XBB.1.5 would have a hard time escaping the cellular immunity conferred by killer T cells, which work by destroying virus-infected cells even if antibodies fail to stop those cells from being infected in the first place,” Alessandro Sette, a professor at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, told Scientific America.
That’s why experts don’t believe XBB.1.5 will lead to increased hospitalization and deaths. Plus, the vaccines are still effective at protecting people against severe disease, according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Like other variants, XBB.1.5’s infectious period is one to two days before symptoms appear, and two to three days after. However, it can take up to five days after being exposed to develop symptoms.
What HR can do
If employees hear about the “Kraken,” it’ll be HR’s job to calm them down, especially in the Northeast.
While most employees seem to go with the flow with every new variant of COVID-19, there are those who don’t.
The CDC recommends employees:
- get their vaccine booster
- stay home if they’ve been exposed or tested positive
- wipe down their desk and equipment they use with disinfectant wipes provided by employers
- wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as active ingredients and rub hands together until they are dry
- not touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and
- avoid close contact with people who are sick.