New COVID-19 Variant HV.1: What to Know and Why Experts Aren’t Concerned
The emergence of the new COVID-19 variant HV.1 has raised concerns, but experts are not worried about its potential impact.
As health authorities in the United States monitor the new COVID-19 variant HV.1, which has the potential to replace the current dominant variant EG.5, it is important to understand the characteristics and implications of this new strain. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HV.1 first surfaced in mid-summer, well before the rapid rise in cases seen in September. Currently, it is responsible for nearly 20 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the country.
As the world enters the winter season, which is known for an increase in respiratory viruses, it becomes crucial to differentiate the new HV.1 variant from other types of flu. The Omicron variant, which emerged in the fall of 2021, has undergone multiple mutations since its initial outbreak in December 2021. HV.1 has the potential to become the next dominant strain during the upcoming fall and winter seasons. The CDC reports that it already accounts for approximately one in five cases in the United States. Its growth has been rapid, increasing from 0.5 percent in late July to nearly overtaking EG.5.
Despite the rapid spread of HV.1, experts, including Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, are not concerned about the variant. Dr. Adalja emphasizes that new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, are expected to emerge regularly, much like other respiratory viruses. Most of these variants are not likely to be of significant concern. While HV.1 is highly transmissible, there is no evidence to suggest that it is more severe than other circulating variants.
The symptoms of HV.1 are similar to those of other COVID-19 variants, including fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, and nausea or vomiting.
One question on many people’s minds is whether the current COVID-19 vaccines offer protection against HV.1. Experts believe that the updated vaccines, based on the XBB.1.5 variant, are expected to provide protection against this new strain. HV.1 is considered a “grandchild” of the XBB.15 variant, meaning that the available vaccines should be effective in preventing severe disease caused by HV.1.
In conclusion, while the emergence of the HV.1 variant raises concerns, experts are not worried about its potential impact. The characteristics of HV.1 are similar to other COVID-19 variants, and the available vaccines are expected to provide protection against this new strain. As the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to stay informed and follow public health guidelines to mitigate the spread of the virus.