With the BQ variants of Omicron now dominating the nation, officials are warning immunocompromised people that they could be more severely infected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Omicron BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 variants are now the dominant strains of the virus, accounting for 57% of new cases nationwide.
Yahoo News reported the new variants are highly contagious, with infections doubling each week, spreading twice as fast as older variants like BA.2.75.2.
The report said that in addition to spreading faster than other variants, the BQ strains are more resistant to natural and therapeutic antibodies including the Evusheld and Bebtelovimab antibody treatments.
For those who are immunocompromised, the severity of the disease can be worse, possibly leading to a reported slight increase in hospitalization and deaths.
Fortune reported in October that the efficiency of existing vaccines is unknown against the new variants, but the CDC recommends getting boosted anyway.
The CDC said in early November that staying up to date with the vaccination boosters is the best chance to avoid hospitalization and death from an infection, especially for immunocompromised individuals.
"If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised [have a weakened immune system], you are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness and death. Additionally, your immune response to COVID-19 vaccination may not be as strong as in people who are not immunocompromised," the agency's Nov. 3 recommendation said. "CDC recommends everyone ages 5 years and older get an updated COVID-19 booster to help restore protection that has decreased since your last vaccine. One updated booster dose is recommended for all people ages 5 years and older, regardless of whether or not they are immunocompromised."
According to the CDC, 142,897,463 doses of the COVID vaccine have been distributed in the United States through October, with more than 111 million going to people over the age of 5 with at least one booster dose, and more than 26 million to people 50 years old and above with a second dose.
While the numbers may seem large, the agency said it represents just 49.5% of people who are eligible to get the booster.
"CDC is using multiple surveillance systems to monitor variants in the United States," the agency said on its website. "Data from each system plays an important role in helping us effectively understand the emergence of new variants, whether variants are entering and spreading in the United States and which variants are most prevalent within communities in the United States."
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