New Strain Evades Immunities

  • In addition to being highly immune evasive, XBB.1.5 has an additional trick up its sleeve that seems to be helping to fuel its growth. It has a key mutation at site 486, which allows it to bind more tightly to ACE2, the doors the virus uses to enter our cells.
  • “The mutation is clearly letting XBB.1.5 spread better,” Jesse Bloom, a computational virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, wrote in an email.
  • This mutation was first flagged by Bloom, who studies the evolution of viruses and viral proteins, as one that could be important for viral fitness. It has been confirmed by Yunlong Cao at Peking University. “It’s got a better ability to get into cells,” Roychoudhury said, which means it’s more infectious.
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