White House 'Winter Preparedness Plan' Revives Free At-Home COVID-19 Test Program

Experts with the University of Washington Medicine are tracking the new COVID-19 variant’s presence in the Pacific Northwest after the CDC warned about the presence of the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5. A press release from UW Medicine states the subvariant is expected to become the most dominant strain in the area. 

The UW Medicine Clinical Virology Lab will be monitoring the strain for the next several months as it tracks regional COVID-19 data. Based on what is already known about XBB.1.5, the lab’s assistant director Dr. Alex Greninger says it’s spreading rapidly and outcompetes other strains. 

“It is rapidly spreading,” said Dr. Greninger. “And, if you were to get COVID in the month of January, if I were a wagering person, I would say it’s probably going to be XBB.1.5. Maybe not this week, but by next week and the week after, that’s going to be the dominant strain.” 

Existing protections can be used against XBB.1.5, according to the press release. Being vaccinated, getting booster shots and masking indoors can all help protect people from hospitalization and mortality, according to Greninger. But with so many people getting omicron infections in 2022 and getting vaccinated in 2022, there’s a “big menagerie of immunity.” 

Authorized therapies like Paxlovid, molnupiravir and remdesivir can also reportedly combat XBB.1.5.