Omicron BQ, a subvariant of XBB causes more than 70% of infections

People wait to be tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a pop-up testing station in New York City on July 11, 2022.

Brendan McDiarmid | Reuters

As millions of Americans prepare to travel and gather with family for vacations later this month, the most immunoevasive Omicron variant to date accounts for 70% of new infections in the US causing more than

BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 subvariants together now account for 68% of new cases, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. XBB subvariants cause 4.7% of new infections.

the scientist, Several independence the studyexplains that the BQ and XBB subvariants are better at evading vaccination and immunity from infection than previous versions of the virus.

They pose a significant threat to people with compromised immune systems because the main antibody treatments are resistant to them. pulled bebuterobimaba monoclonal antibody used to prevent people infected with Covid from becoming seriously ill.

Bebtelovimab was used by people who could not get other FDA-approved treatments, such as the antiviral drug Paxlovid. Many people with weakened immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients, cannot take paxlovid with other medications.

BQ and XBB variants are also resistant to Evusheld. Evusheld is an antibody cocktail that many people with compromised immune systems do not respond adequately to vaccines and therefore rely on for protection. The FDA still allows him to use Evusheld.

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The Omicron booster also produces a weaker immune response to BQ and XBB variants than the previously dominant versions of the virus. According to recent researchThe shot was designed against the BA.5 variant, which currently causes just 11% of infections in the United States.

Boosters may be less effective against BQ and XBB subvariants than against BA.5, but still elicit an immune response.Pfizer is the new booster does a better job Against BQ.1.1 and XBB than the original shot.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House Chief Medical Advisor, said at a press conference last month that while the boosters are not at optimal levels, they do provide protection against more immune-evading variants. He said that the protection is somewhat lower in , but many times lower against XBB.

the shot is Provides better protection against hospitalization than infections and minor illnessesexperts say.

Covid infections and hospitalizations are on the rise after the Thanksgiving holiday. The number of cases in the week ending Dec. 7 increased nearly 50% to about 459,000, compared with 307,000 the week before, according to CDC data. This is an underestimate because the official data do not include the results of people tested at home.

Covid patient hospitalizations have increased by about 14% in a week, averaging more than 4,800 hospitalizations per day, according to CDC data. Over 50% of his hospitalized patients are over the age of 70.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky encouraged the public to: Wear a mask this winter It helps prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, especially in counties with high Covid levels.

The CDC is calling on everyone who qualifies for Covid boosters and flu shots to reduce the burden of illness this winter. Omicron BQ, a subvariant of XBB causes more than 70% of infections

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