Metro Detroit doctors predict XBB 1.5 Covid variant will increase cases, hospitalizations

The XBB 1.5 Covid variant is becoming the dominant strand in the United States.

Though we didn't see an uptick in Covid cases or hospitalizations after the holidays, doctors believe the variant will lead to an increase.

"So, right now we’re doing great in Southeast Michigan. As a system, we have about 70 Covid patients across our five hospitals," said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, the System Medical Director for Infection Control and Prevention at Henry Ford Health. "I do think that number will increase over the next month as we see more of XBB 1.5."

The symptoms are very similar to the flu or a cold – cough, congestion, and headaches, so Cunningham said people experiencing these symptoms should get tested for Covid.

"It’s important to know because you can get medicine that can prevent you from getting worse and keep you out of the hospital," he said.

Doctors believe XBB 1.5 originated in China and for now, has been prevalent on the East Coast, where doctors are paying close attention.

"There was a slight uptick in mortality on the East Coast with this variant," Cunningham said. "The good news is that the bivalent booster still seems to be giving protection."

That’s why doctors continue to say for those who are eligible getting vaccinated and boosted is crucial.

"If you look across the country, we have several hundred deaths a day which is more than we typically have with flu or other respiratory viruses," Cunningham said.