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New omicron subvariant BQ.1.1 gains momentum in U.S.

BQ.1 and its offspring BQ.1.1 together make up 11.4% of reported cases

SHARE New omicron subvariant BQ.1.1 gains momentum in U.S.
An illustration for the omicron variant.

An illustration for the omicron variant.

Alex Cochran, Deseret News

Omicron subvariant BQ.1 and its offspring, BQ.1.1, are gaining a foothold in the United States.

These highly immune-evasive subvariants are mutations of omicron subvariant BA.5, which is currently the dominant variant that’s behind 67.9% of COVID-19 cases.

The two new mutations together make up 11.4% of reported cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, said in an interview with CBS News that a variant like BQ.1 has “a pretty troublesome doubling time.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, the founder of Health Watch USA, a patient advocacy group, said that the new strains have been hiding in plain sight, doubling every week, per health care news site Fierce Healthcare.

“Data from CDC appears delayed in being posted on this variant. Once it became apparent in the last few weeks that the variant is having a significant impact, the data were separated,” he said.

Since the mutations are the offspring of BA.5, the vaccines will offer some protection but it is unclear to what degree, according to Fortune.

Andy Pekosz, a microbiology professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Global News that BQ.1.1 has “the most ability to escape vaccine-induced immunity, as well as some antibody treatments,” at least on paper,” as I previously reported.

“So that’s one of the reasons why we’re focusing in on this one and trying to keep track of what it’s doing and where it is,” Pekosz said.

What are the top omicron symptoms to look out for?

As I previously reported, omicron subvariants have a shorter incubation period, which is why the symptoms may appear earlier. The worst symptom is a “throat on fire,” said UCSF’s Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.

The most common omicron-related symptoms are:

  • Cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Congestion.
  • Runny nose.