What To Know About The COVID XBB.1.5 Variant

Three years after the coronavirus emerged in the United States, a new variant, XBB.1.5 is quickly becoming the dominant strain in parts of the country.


The World Health Organization has said that this variant is “the most transmissible” descendant yet.


Should patients be worried about this virus?  Here is what to know about the XBB.1.5 variant.


What are the symptoms?


Symptoms appear to be close to those of the Omicron variant and can include: fever, sore throat, muscle ache, exhaustion, nausea, cough, sinus congestion, among other problems. The symptoms tyically last 7-10 days. 


Concerns include shortness of breath and low oxygen levels requiring emergency medical attention. 


Exposure takes anywhere from 2-14 days leading to symptoms and/or a positive COVID test.


What COVID Test Should I Receive?


When it comes to COVID-19 testing, there are numerous to choose from: PCR, Antigen, Home Tests, Molecular Tests, etc.


And as a patient experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it can be very confusing and frustrating to choose what test to get!


The CDC recommends two different tests:



  1. PCR – Most reliable test to confirm COVID-19 infection
  2. Antigen Test – Most appropriate test to confirm if you are no longer contagious.

The appropriate test to take depends on the reason for testing.


The PCR test is the “gold standard” for diagnosing COVID-19.  If you suspect you have COVID-19, the PCR test is the test to take.


Keep in mind, a PCR test can remain positive for months, because this test detects viral fragments as well as the whole virus.


Unlike the PCR test, the antigen test can only determine if you have an active virus in your body.  So if you want to see if you are contagious, the antigen test is the one to take. 


However, a negative antigen test result should be repeated at least 48 hours apart to best detect infection, and a follow up PCR test may be needed to confirm results from an antigen test.


Contagious individuals remain positive on a rapid antigen test, typically for 10 days after symptoms but could be longer.


What Do I Do If I Test Positive?


If you test positive for COVID, the CDC recommends you should isolate for at least 5 days if you are experiencing symptoms, and not end your isolation until 24 hours after your symptoms abate. 


If you are not experiencing symptoms, you should isolate for 5 days, and wear a mask for 10 days.


What Treatments are Available?


If you test positive and have symptoms, medicines like Paxlovid may be considered.  If you are over 60 years old, or have a medical condition the raises the risk for serous infection, consult your family doctor, or schedule an appointment with one of our providers to see if you qualify for this medication.


How Do I Keep From Catching This Subvariant?


Keeping up to date with your vaccinations and boosters can provide protection against XBB.1.5.


Wearing a well-fitted mask and avoiding indoor spaces can also reduce the risk of infection.


If you or someone you know suspects coronavirus infection, please contact your primary care doctor, or schedule an appointment at one of our clinics to get the treatment you need.


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