New omicron subvariants accounted for more cases in New York region in latest week than BA.5, CDC data shows

The omicron sublineages named BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 continued to spread in the U.S. in the week through Oct. 29, accounting for 27.1% of new cases nationwide, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The two accounted for 42.5% of all cases in the New York region, which includes New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, up from 37% the previous week. That was more than the BA.5 omicron subvariant, which accounted for 35.7% of new cases in the New York area in the latest week.

The BA.5 omicron subvariant accounted for 49.6% of all U.S. cases, the data show.

BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 were included in BA.5 variant data as recently as three weeks ago, because their numbers were too small to break out. BQ.1 was first identified by researchers in early September and has been found in the U.K. and Germany, among other places.

Last week, the World Health Organization said that BQ.1 and another sublineage dubbed XBB do not appear to have immune-escape mutations that warrant being designated as variants of concern. However, BA.5 is still a variant of concern that is being closely monitored, said a statement from the WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution.

Workers in a manufacturing facility that assemble Apple Inc.’s
iPhone in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou appear to have left to avoid COVID-19 curbs, with many traveling on foot for days after an unknown number of employees were quarantined in the facility after a virus outbreak, the Associated Press reported. 

Videos circulating on Chinese social media platforms showed people who are allegedly Foxconn workers climbing over fences and carrying their belongings down a road.

Separately, visitors to Shanghai Disneyland were left stranded at the park on Monday after the resort halted operations to comply with COVID-19 restrictions amid a new outbreak of the virus.

In the U.S., known cases of COVID are continuing to ease and now stand at their lowest level since mid-April, although the true tally is likely higher given how many people overall are testing at home, where data are not being collected.

The daily average for new cases stood at 36,869 on Sunday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 2% from two weeks ago. The daily average for hospitalizations was up 3% to 27,415, while the daily average for deaths was down 6% to 352. 

Coronavirus Update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting all the latest developments every weekday since the coronavirus pandemic began

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

• With a downcast earnings season passing the halfway mark, results from financial-technology companies and vaccine makers will arrive this week amid questions about consumer spending as well as demand for COVID drugs, MarketWatch’s Bill Peters reported. Pfizer Inc.
will report earnings on Tuesday, followed by Moderna Inc.
on Thursday. Analysts will have their eye on the state of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment sales and on what executives are anticipating for the full year, as they prepare for a private market for COVID medications and as more people shrug off the pandemic. Pfizer executives, during a call last week, said they intended to charge between $110 and $130 for a single-dose vial of the vaccine for U.S. adults when government purchases end. But they said they believe anyone who has health insurance shouldn’t have to pay anything out of pocket.

The FDA authorized newly modified COVID-19 boosters to target the latest versions of the omicron variant. But as WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez explains, a key part of the decision-making process was changed with these new shots. Photo: Laura Kammermann

• A number of young children are being hospitalized because of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and it’s happening at an unusual time of year and among older children than in years past, MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported. COVID may be a contributing factor, in part because many children were not exposed to RSV last season and also because a prior COVID infection or exposure may change the way a baby’s immune system responds to RSV and may lead to more severe illness from an RSV infection, according to Asuncion Mejias, a principal investigator with the Center for Vaccines and Immunity at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

• On Saturday, more than 3,000 people took part in the first Pride march in South Africa since the COVID pandemic , celebrating the LGBT community and defying a U.S. warning of a possible terror attack in the area, the AP reported. The U.S. government this week warned of a possible attack in the Sandton part of Johannesburg, where the march took place. The South African government expressed concern that the U.S. had not shared enough information to give credibility to the alleged threat. Police said all measures had been taken to ensure safety in the area.

Here’s what the numbers say:

The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 630.2 million on Monday, while the death toll rose above 6.58 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. leads the world with 97.5 million cases and 1,070,266 fatalities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 226.9 million people living in the U.S., equal to 68.4% of the total population, are fully vaccinated, meaning they have had their primary shots.

So far, just 22.8 million Americans have had the updated COVID booster that targets the original virus and the omicron variants, equal to 7.3% of the overall population.


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