Evasive COVID-19 subvariants that you don’t know about are spreading fast – Poynter

by | Oct 16, 2022 | COVID-19

The Morning Meeting with Al Tompkins is a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas worth considering and other timely context for journalists, written by senior faculty Al Tompkins. Focus on these new names: BQ1 and BQ1.1.  They are two of the hundreds of subvariants of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus behind COVID-19 that the World Health Organization is tracking.   These subvariants have shown up in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, France, Belgium, New Zealand, Denmark and Italy.  And serious COVID-19 cases are rising around the world, just not in the U.S. yet. But we have been down this road before and we know, by now, where it is likely to lead. (Our World in Data) BQ1.1 is showing up in the United States at a rate that is concerning epidemiologists like Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding. He is the researcher who, in January 2020, posted an alarming Tweet that started “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD” and became, for most Americans, the first warning of the pandemic that was coming. Some called him an alarmist back then.  He wasn’t. With that background, here is a post from Dr. Feigl-Ding this weekend: (Twitter) Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding is not alone in his concern. Cornelius Roemer, a viral evolution expert at the University of Basel in Switzerland, says BQ 1.1 cases has been doubling every week in Europe. (Twitter) Canadian health authorities say they are closely watching BQ.1.1.  Global News quotes Andy Pekosz, a professor of microbiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States: “On paper, this looks like a virus that has probably, to date, the most ability to escape vaccine-induced immunity, as well as some antibody treatments,” Pekosz said. “So that’s one of the reasons why we’re focusing in on this one and trying to keep track of what it’s doing and where it is.” BQ.1.1 is attracting a lot of scrutiny in the UK, too, where infections have been doubling every week for the last two months. StatNews reminds us that if a subvariant like BQ1.1 proves to have the ability to …

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