Just a month ago, the emerging COVID-19 variant BQ.1 accounted for less than 1% of cases. Now, according to the CDC, it accounts for more than 1 in 10 cases in the U.S., along with it descendant, BQ.1.1.

This increase in cases is not the only concern with the BQ.1 variant; according to experts, its mutations could potentially escape vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.

Currently, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 appear most widespread in the New York and New Jersey region, accounting for nearly 20% of infections there, according to the CDC.

Because the new variant is a descendant of Omicron, Dr. Fauci is confident the currently available booster shots are still the best first line of protection against this up-and-coming threat.

“The bad news is that there’s a new variant that’s emerging and that has qualities or characteristics that could evade some of the interventions we have. But, the somewhat encouraging news is that it’s a BA.5 sub-lineage, so there are almost certainly going to be some cross-protection that you can boost up,” says Dr. Fauci.

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