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The latest circulating COVID-19 variants have shown greater immune escape, which will likely lead to increasing cases over the coming months, experts said.

New Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 together now make up more than half of all COVID cases in the U.S. (30.9% and 31.9%, respectively), according to the CDC's COVID Data Tracker, representing a rapid rise from early November when they represented about a quarter of all cases.

David Weber, MD, MPH, of the UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, said the rising prevalence of these variants is likely attributed to ineffective immune responses from prior infections and vaccination, but healthcare providers should still rely on tried-and-true approaches, such as boosters, antivirals, and masking.

"The bottom line is those variants, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, because they escaped immunity from natural infection ... we'll expect to see increasing proportions of them over the next couple of months," Weber told MedPage Today.

"A model from Europe suggested that by December 1, [the variants] would be more than 50%, and they were correct," he added. "And they suggest by January 1, more than 80% of the circulating variants will be BQ.1 and BQ.1.1." Head over to MedPage Today to read more about it.