Doctors offer insight on new COVID-19 variant XBB after cases reported in Pittsburgh area

PITTSBURGH — It’s no surprise to AHN Internal Medicine Physician, Dr. Brian Lamb, that there’s a new COVID-19 variant making it’s way around the country — just like we’ve seen in the past.

The new variant is called XBB, or “Kraken,” and it’s an off-shoot of the Omicron variant.

”This is exactly what we expect. We are going to see new variants probably forever, becuase we aren’t getting rid of COVID. We are going to see them continue and replicate,” Dr. Lamb said.

Allegheny County Health Director, Dr. Debra Bogen confirmed that they’ve seen a limited number of XBB lab tests, and they’re monitoring how it impacts residents.

Dr. Lamb told us there’s no question XBB is the most common variant in the Pittsburgh area.

”It’s already probably the most common variant. Nationwide, it isn’t there yet, but if you’re looking at regions of the country, right now where we are especially in the north east, it probably already is the most common variant,” Dr. Lamb said.

In Allegheny County, there is currently a medium transmission rate, and doctors say XBB is more contagious.

”You’re going to see viruses that maybe more contagious, but aren’t nearly as deadly and we’ve seen this for centuries,” he added.

If you were infected with COVID in recent months, or the vaccine and boosters, and think you’re immune from this variant, Dr. Lamb says that’s likely not the case.

”You still have that protection from COVID-19, just not against the new variant, but having had that old protection, that means hopefully you are in less of a risk to catch a new variant and getting very, very, very sick,” he said.

Doctors are also suggesting if you are in an indoor crowded place, and you feel uncomfortable, to wear your mask.

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