United States (US) health regulators on Friday estimated that BQ.1 and closely related BQ.1.1 accounted for 16.6% of coronavirus variants in the country, nearly doubling from last week, while Europe expects them to become the dominant variants in a month. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said the variants are likely to drive up cases in the coming weeks to months in the European region. The two variants are descendants of Omicron’s BA.5 subvariant, which is the dominant form of the coronavirus in the US. Regulators in Europe and the US have recently authorised vaccine boosters that target it.
Lalita Panicker is consulting editor, views, Hindustan Times, New Delhi