The new COVID variant becomes the predominant strain en masse.


BQ.1.1 has spread rapidly across the country in recent weeks.

A Moderna COVID-19 booster vaccine. Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Before the holidays, a new strain of COVID-19 took over in Massachusetts.

The subvariant, known as BQ.1.1, is related to the omicron family and now accounts for 39% of COVID-19 cases in the state, making it the predominant variant in Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reported.

Nationally, BQ.1.1 and its sibling BQ.1 accounted for just under 50% of COVID cases last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. BA.5, the strain that dominated the country all summer, now seems to be giving way to BQ.1.1 and BQ.1. The latest data from the CDC estimates that about 24% of cases nationwide are caused by BA.5.

The boosters distributed this fall were intended to combat BA.5. Pfizer and Moderna recently said their booster shots work to trigger immune responses against BQ.1.1 and BQ.1, CNBC reported.

BQ.1.1 may pose an increased risk for immunocompromised people and those who develop serious infections, according to the World. The two predominant antibody drugs probably won’t work as well against the newer variants.

“If you are unlucky enough to end up seriously ill in hospital, the arsenal doctors will have to treat you will be more limited,” said Dr. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard TH Chan School of Medicine. Public Health. say it World.

While these variants may be more dangerous for some, a broader spike in infections does not appear imminent in Massachusetts. Recent data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shows that the number of cases in the state has remained relatively stable over the past month. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s wastewater analysis, a powerful tool used to gain early insight into future COVID trends, shows no significant increase in virus levels since last Thursday.

“The vast majority of vaccinated people have no particular reason to be concerned about BQ.1.1,” Hanage told the World.

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