New COVID-19 variants are popping up all over the world at a rapid pace, and now experts are worried about a winter surge.
The United States is currently battling variants BQ.1, BQ.1.1, BF.7, BA.4.6, BA.2.75 and BA.2.75.2. Other countries are seeing variant XBB. Surges are happening in Singapore, Europe, and the United Kingdom as well.
Many of these variants are using letters Q, X, and B.
What’s happening with COVID-19 and the potential for a winter surge with new variants?
According to WENY News, cases of COVID-19 are actually dropping as we move into the fall season.
While this seems like great news after the last two years, virus experts worry that with all of the new variants piling up, the trend will reverse.
The new variants popping up were responsible for one out of every three new cases last week.
That’s why there’s a new bivalent booster vaccine that will combat multiple variants of COVID-19, not just the most common ones. Paxlovid, an antiviral drug, can also help protect those at higher risk of COVID-19 infection.
Experts are worried that those at the highest risk are in greater danger due to the variants escaping lab created antibodies. Right now, the U.S. is out of money and can’t create new antibodies.
What can happen with these new variants?
It is possible that the multiple variants will continue to spread throughout the population at similar rates.
It’s also possible that one of these variants could outcompete another, becoming the lead variant like Omicron did.
These new variants all come from the COVID-19 strain Omicron and share many of the same mutations.
The subvariant BA.5, from Omicron, still takes the lead for infecting the most people. About 68% of new cases last week were BA.5.
Now, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 is popping up more often, also an Omicron variant.
Right now, these viruses are similar enough to the BA.5 variant and Omicron itself that vaccines would still be effective.
Experts say this is not a cause for panic, but to remain aware and stay careful this season.
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