Experts: new COVID-19 subvariant gaining traction at ‘troublesome’ rate
AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Two new COVID-19 subvariants are gaining traction throughout the country at a “troublesome” rate, according to White House top medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci weighed in on COVID-19 and told CBS News that two new subvariants are growing at “pretty troublesome” rates. BQ.1 and BQ1.1 are subvariants of the omicron COVID-19 strain and currently represent more than 11-percent of cases since mid-September, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to last month when these same subvariants only accounted for less than one percent of cases.
While cases here in the Bay State have been trending downward, experts said we should not let our guards down just yet. Western Mass News is getting answers from Dr. Erika Hamilton with the UMass Amherst microbiology department. She told us it is concerning how quickly the new subvariants are spreading
“This is similar to what omicron did. Our cases throughout the country were going down, things were looking great, and then omicron arrived and everything turned back around again. Our cases went up, our deaths went up, and we may see that again with these subvariants,” Hamilton explained.
Hamilton predicts that we will soon start to see even more cases of these subvariants as we also enter into cold and flu season. We asked her if the booster protects against these subvariants.
“The subvariants are close relatives to omicron and the new bivalent COVID vaccine does cover omicron, so if you have not already gotten your bivalent booster, get that because that will help,” Hamilton noted.
This past August, the FDA-approved Moderna and Pfizer’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccines, which targets both the original strain of COVID, as well as the omicron variant. Hamilton told Western Mass News that she is optimistic that the booster will help prevent serious illness from omicron and its related subvariants.
“We don’t know if it will be 100 percent effective, but it will definitely help because simply because the virus strains are related to each other,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton recommended people continue to wash their hands regularly, mask up when in crowded spaces, and also be sure to get both the flu shot and COVID-19 booster.
Copyright 2022. Western Mass News (WGGB/WSHM). All rights reserved.