Since the first detection of omicron in late 2021, this variant of the coronavirus has branched off into several subvariants.

BA.2 took off in the spring, BA.5 dominated towards the end of the summer. Subvariants B.Q.1 and B.Q.1.1 together became the predominant form of the virus in the United States in late fall. Other omicron subvariants include XBB, BF.7.

Do omicron and its subvariants cause more severe illness?

Omicron and its subvariants have, for the most part, caused less fatal infections than previous variants, said Dr. Armando Meza, chief of infectious disease at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, especially compared to what was seen with the delta variant and the original strain of the virus.

Read more from Dr. Meza and others here.