XBB subvariant of Omicron is highly transmissible yet not deadly, as viral posts claim!

COVID-19 Misleading

The covid-19 pandemic continues to make headlines with various new variants and sub-variants, and social media streams often get flooded with such content. This is our investigation of viral misinformation on social media about XBB – a sub-variant of Omicron.

Social Media Posts 

The text message with the headline “News from Singapore” is spread on social with a description of the XBB sub-variant of Omicron. While listing some of the symptoms of this variant, the long narration also claimed that Covid19-Omicron XBB had become highly infectious, highly toxic and deadly. The entire message is seen below.


News from Singapore!

Please be sure to wear a mask as the new COVID-Omicron XB variant Coronavirus is different, lethal, and not easy to detect: –

The symptoms of the new COVID-Omicron XBB virus are as follows: –

  1. No coughing.

    2. No fever.

There will be many: –

    3. Joint pain.

    4. Headache.

    5. Neck pain.

    6. Upper back pain.

    7. Pneumonia.

    8. Usually no appetite.

Of course, COVID-Omicron XBB is five times more toxic than the Delta variant and has a higher mortality rate than Delta.

It takes less time for the condition to reach extreme severity, sometimes with no obvious symptoms.

Let’s be more careful!

This virus strain is not present in the nasopharyngeal area, and it directly affects the lungs, the “window,” in a relatively short time.

Several patients diagnosed with Covid Omicron XBB were eventually classified as having no fever and no pain, but X-rays showed mild chest pneumonia.

Nasal swab tests are usually negative for COVID-Omicron XBB, and false negative cases for nasopharyngeal tests are increasing.

This means that the virus can spread in the community and infect the lungs directly, resulting in Viral pneumonia, which in turn causes acute respiratory stress.

This explains why Covid-Omicron XBB has become highly infectious, highly toxic and deadly.

Please note that avoid crowded places, even in open areas, to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters, wear a double mask, wear a suitable mask, and wash your hands frequently when you are asymptomatic (no coughing or sneezing).

This Covid Omicron * “WAVE” * is more deadly than the first wave of COVID-19. So we have to be very careful and take all kinds of enhanced Coronavirus prevention measures.

Also, be vigilant in communicating with your friends and family.

Don’t keep this information to yourself, share as much as you can with other relatives and friends, especially your family and friends.

Facebook | Archived

Those posts were viral on Facebook.

Such posts are viral on WhatsApp too.

Fact Check

Before examining the claims made in the viral posts, we decided to find out about the XBB, which has been in the news recently.

What is XBB 

Technically, XBB is not a direct variant of Covid 19, and it’s a subvariant of Covid 19 variant- Omicron. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) definition, XBB is a recombinant of BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 sub-variants of Omicron. More details about it can be read here. Archived.

And there is a controversy about whether XBB subvariants can be detected from general RAT and PCR tests. While some experts in the field state that it can be determined from tests like the RAT as seen here | Archived, few are skeptical of these results. A Group of experts from the Health Department of the Philippines warn that it’s challenging to identify XBB from usual tests. CNN’s article regarding this can be read here. Archived.

Symptoms and Severity of the XBB

The symptoms of XBB are similar to other subvariants of Omicron covid-19 variants. However, while fever and cold can also be seen, the symptoms are generally mild, according to the Indonesian government’s spokeswoman of Covid 19 pandemic. And the severity of the infection is low. But the transmission rate of the virus is high. A detailed report on this can be read here. Archived.

And Indian media reports also state that the severity of the XBB infection is relatively low, as seen here. Archived & Archived 

What does WHO say?

According to the WHO, current data do not suggest substantial differences in disease severity for XBB infections. There is, however, early evidence pointing at a higher reinfection risk than other circulating Omicron sub-lineages. Cases of reinfection were primarily limited to those with initial infection in the pre-Omicron period. WHO report can be read here. Archived.

Ministry of Health – Malaysia

The Malaysian Ministry of Health issued a statement refuting the viral social claims. They claim these misleading claims made without scientific proof could lead to panic and confusion among the public and advised not to share such posts with unverified facts. Archived

Also, MOH Malaysia is very appreciative and grateful to the people who still wear face masks when going out of the house to take care of their health & it states that vaccinations still provide reasonable protection against COVID-19 and urge to get the booster dose for those who qualify especially for high-risk groups, as seen here.

Can XBB skip the nasal cavity and attack the lungs?

“The SARS-CoV-2 virus is immobile and travels through droplets and aerosols that we breathe in. It is not a homing missile that searches for a particular target. As the air we breathe through the nasopharynx before it reaches the lungs, that is where most of the virus ends up, and that is why we swab the nasopharynx to detect COVID-19.”, says medical doctor Adrian Wong in his writings. The article can be read here. Archived.

In a study published a few months ago in the journal Microbiology Spectrum, researchers at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine confirmed that testing samples from just inside the nostril (the kind used in home tests) are the most effective way to test and track COVID-19. The study can be read here. Archived

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According to our investigation, it is clear that there isn’t enough supportive scientific evidence to suggest that the XBB subvariant of the Omicron COVID-19 variant is deadly, as the social media posts claim. 

Current data do not suggest substantial differences in disease severity for XBB infections; however, the XBB subvariant is highly transmissible, and scientists continue to study the effects of this new sub-variant of Omicron.


Title:XBB subvariant of Omicron is highly transmissible yet not deadly, as viral posts claim!

Fact Check By: Kalana Krishantha 

Result: Misleading

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