COVID variants BQ.1/BQ.1.1 make up 35% of US cases

A doctor (center) gives a man the first of two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a one-day vaccination clinic set up in an facility in Seattle, the United States, on Jan 24, 2021. (TED S. WARREN / AP)

MOSCOW / BERLIN – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday estimated that Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 accounted for about 35 percent of coronavirus cases in the country in the week ending Nov 5 compared with 23.2 percent in the previous week.

The subvariants made up nearly 9 percent of total cases in the week of Oct 15 and their proportion has been rising steadily among circulating cases since then.

The two variants are descendants of Omicron's BA.5 subvariant and have been spreading rapidly in Europe. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has said they were likely to become the dominant variants shortly and drive up cases in the next few weeks and months.

There is no evidence yet that BQ.1 is linked with increased severity compared to the circulating Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, the European agency said, but warned it may evade some immune protection, citing laboratory studies in Asia.

New variants are monitored closely by regulators and vaccine manufacturers in case they start to evade protection offered by current shots.

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Russia has registered 6,149 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 21,453,667, the official monitoring and response center said on Friday.

The center said the nationwide death toll increased by 71 to 390,459, while the number of recoveries grew by 9,259 to 20,841,779.

Meanwhile, Moscow reported 757 new cases, taking its total to 3,233,918.  


Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic said on Friday that an analysis of bubbles that formed in vials of BionTech-Pfizer's COVID-19 booster shot revealed no indication of risk.

Swissmedic said the batch in question can still be used for vaccinations and there is no risk to anyone who may have already been vaccinated.

It added that it would continue to analyse the situation and would investigate any additional phenomena reported.