In Massachusetts, a new COVID-19 strain has taken over before the holidays. The Boston Globe said that 39 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the state are now caused by the subvariant BQ.1.1, which is related to the omicron family. This makes it the most common variant in Massachusetts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that BQ.1.1 and its sibling BQ.1 were responsible for just under half of all COVID cases in the United States last week. BA.5, the most common strain all summer long, seems to be giving way to BQ.1.1 and BQ.1. The latest information from the CDC says that BA.5 is responsible for about 24% of cases across the country.
The booster shots given out this fall were meant to fight against BA.5. CNBC reported that both Pfizer and Moderna have said that their booster shots work to make the body’s immune system respond to BQ.1.1 and BQ.1.
The Globe says that BQ.1.1 could be more dangerous for people who don’t have strong immune systems or severe infections. Most likely, the two primary antibody medicines won’t work as well against the new types.
Dr William Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the Globe, “If you get sick enough to end up in the hospital, doctors will have fewer tools to treat you.”
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Even though these variants could be more dangerous for some people, it doesn’t look like there will be a significant rise in infections in Massachusetts any time soon. Recent information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shows that the number of cases in the state has been pretty stable over the past month. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s wastewater analysis, a powerful way to predict future COVID trends, does not show that the virus’s levels have risen significantly since last Thursday.
Hanage told the Globe that most people vaccinated have no reason to worry about BQ.1.1.