(HealthDay News) – New, more contagious omicron variants are starting to spread across the United States, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These variants, known as BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, are related to the omicron variant BA.5. Together, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 make up more than 10% of new SARS-CoV-2 infections in the US, the CDC reported.

“When you get variants like that, you look at what their rate of increase is as a relative proportion of the variants, and this has a pretty troublesome doubling time,” Anthony Fauci, MD, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CBS News.

Continue Reading

Scientists first named BQ.1 in September. BQ.1 and its descendant, BQ.1.1, together are responsible for 11.4% of US COVID-19 cases, while BA.5 accounts for 70% of new COVID-19 cases, and BA.4.6 is responsible for just over 12%.

“While BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 represent a small but fast-growing subset of the omicron variant, BA.5 remains the dominant lineage in the United States,” CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said in a statement.

Previously, the CDC did not separate BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 in its weekly report because the variants “were circulating at less than 1% in the empiric data,” CBS News reported.

The bivalent vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer that were authorized for use in September could help blunt a BQ.1 surge, according to Dr Fauci. These vaccine boosters were initially authorized for Americans ages 12 years and older but are now available for children ages 5 years and older.

So far, more than 14.7 million Americans have received those booster shots, or about 7% of the 209 million Americans who were eligible before the vaccines were authorized last week for younger children.

CBS News Article