According to the most recent data from the CDC, the developing COVID-19 variant BQ.1 and one of its offspring currently represent more than 1 in 10 cases in the U.S.
Less than 1% of instances were caused by the variation a month ago.
Anthony Fauci, MD, stated in an interview with CBS News that “when you find mutations like that, you look at what their rate of increase is as a relative proportion of the variants, and this has a really difficult doubling time.” Fauci serves as the president Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor in addition to being the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The BQ.1 variation has other unsettling characteristics, including as alterations that might avoid COVID-19 vaccinations and treatments.
The Omicron subvariant known as BA.5, which causes 68% of all infections, is currently the most prevalent variant in the U.S. Monoclonal antibodies are one of the therapies of choice for BA.5 infections, but scientists warn that they may not be as successful against the emerging strains of BQ.1 and its descendent BQ.1.1.
Because of its doubling time and the fact that it appears to evade crucial monoclonal antibodies, BQ.1.1 is the subject of concern, according to Fauci, who spoke to CBS News.
According to the CDC, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 infections are currently most prevalent in the New York and New Jersey region, where they account for close to 20% of infections.
The booster injections that are now on the market, according to Fauci, are still the greatest first line of defence against this emerging threat because the new variation is an ancestor of Omicron.
The somewhat encouraging news is that it’s a BA.5 sub-lineage, so there will almost certainly be some cross-protection that you can boost up. “The bad news is that there’s a new variant that’s emerging and that has qualities or characteristics that could evade some of the interventions we have,” he said.