New COVID version BQ.1 now makes up 1 in 10 cases nationwide, CDC estimates

According to the updated estimates published, in more than a month, a new COVID variant known as BQ.1, which was first named, the strain and descendant named BQ.1.1, has already spread across the country. have accounted for more than 10% of new infections in the U.S. on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the President’s Chief Medical Adviser, said in an interview, “When you find variants like these, you see what their rate of growth is as a relative proportion of the variants, and it’s a very troublesome time.” Is.” With CBS News.

This comes as federal health officials prepare for The widely expected resurgence of COVID-19 This fall and winter. BQ.1 variants have already overtaken many rival strains in European countries England To GermanyThose who have already seen the waves start anew.

CDC has previously bundle BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 with their shared parent BA.5 In the agency’s weekly “Nowcast” projections. BQ.1 was first named by scientists in early September based on sequences observed in the US and several other countries.

BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 each currently account for an estimated 5.7% of infections nationwide, the agency said. The remaining BA.5, which dominated a wave of cases over the summer, has shrunk to 67.9% of the circulating variants.

“While bq.1 and bq.1.1 represent a small but rapidly growing subset of the omicron variant, ba.5 remains the dominant lineage in the United States,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said in a statement.

BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 also appear to be on track to overtake the only other strain that still exceeds them: BA.4.6Which currently makes up 12.2% of infections.

Nordlund said the agency did not list BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 separately in the agency’s previous weekly edition report because they were “transmitting to less than 1% of the empirical data.”

Of all the regions, the New York and New Jersey regions have the highest proportion of BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 infections. About 20% of infections are already from BQ.1 or BQ.1.1, the CDC estimates.

The news of the development of the new variant comes as the COVID-19 metrics are still largely improving across the country.

Only 1% of Americans given “high” COVID-19 community levels live in counties where the CDC urges indoor masking and other steps to contain the virus. Less than half the counties are seeing community transmission bad enough to warrant requiring universal masking in hospitals and nursing homes, under Recent federal guidance,

But data from Health and Human Services Region 2, which spans New York and New Jersey, also tracked recent COVID-19 hospitalizations and infections in nursing homes.

“As much as you want to feel good about the fact that there are fewer cases, fewer hospitalizations, we don’t want to declare victory prematurely. And that’s why we need to keep our eye on these emerging forms.” It is,” Fauci said.

Concerns about immunity and monoclonal antibodies

Fauci also expressed concern that the mutation of the variant can avoid drugs Like Ivushield, which is a major antibody drug used to help immunocompromised Americans protect themselves from the virus.

“That’s why people are concerned about BQ.1.1, due to the dual reason of its doubling time and the fact that it clears away important monoclonal antibodies,” Fauci said.

Dr. A.S.  Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci

Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca said they do not currently have data on how BQ.1 might affect its medicine.

The FDA warned doctors earlier this month that the rise of other variants now across the country could threaten high-risk patients who had relied on Evushield’s safety.

BQ.1 is one of the widest range “stock” The new strains that scientists have tracked are concerned that their mutations at specific positions on the virus’s spike protein could promote a surge,

experts is quoted Variants such as BQ.1 have a “large number of unique mutations” in speculating that it may evade immunity in people who have previously been infected or vaccinated.

However, so far little is known about what effect these mutations may have in affecting disease severity, which will require further studies in animals and humans.

Fauci said he hoped Updated COVID Booster From Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna, which were recently expanded 5. children underWill be able to help contain the potential upside induced by BQ.1.

“The bad news is that a newer version is emerging and has properties or features that may survive some of our interventions. But, the somewhat encouraging news is that it is a BA.5 subline, so almost certainly There’s going to be some cross protection that you can increase,” he said.

More than 14.7 million Americans have so far received an updated COVID Booster, which includes a component aimed at the original BA.5 of BQ.1.

That works out to about 7% of the 209 million who were initially eligible for shots when they were first greenlighted last month.

However, after accelerating in the wake of the initial booster rollout, data published by the CDC late Thursday suggest that the daily pace of new COVID shots is now slowing.

the gap between update booster speed And by this time of year the specific uptake of the annual flu vaccine has widened as well.

“That’s what’s so frustrating for me and my colleagues, who are involved, is that we have the ability to mitigation against it. And the uptake of the new bivalent vaccine isn’t nearly as high as we’d like it to be. Yes,” Fauci said.

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