A new omicron subvariant, BA.4.6, now accounts for more than 4% of COVID-19 cases in New England and across the U.S., according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Not much is known about the new subvariant that is beginning to make an emergence on the scene, but the CDC has deemed it a "variant of concern." BA.4.6 is a mutation of the BA.4 subvariant that began to circulate in Massachusetts in the spring. Since then, BA.5 has taken over as the dominant strain.
"It's early to know how this particular virus is behaving because it seems to be a minority right now in the population of people that are getting infected, but the way it was classified, BA.4.6 makes us believe that it's going to be similar to omicron, which we know is more contagious, but not necessarily more severe," Tufts Medical Center's Dr. Gabriela Andujar Vazquez said during NBC10 Boston's latest "COVID Q&A" discussion. "And so we hope that that stays the same and also we hope they'll do tests to make sure that all the therapeutics, or the treatments we have, and that the vaccines are still effective against this particular variant. And we'll know more as days go by."
The highly-contagious BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants now account for more than 90% of all COVID-19 cases in New England and across the U.S., according to Tuesday's update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.