Two new iterations of the Omicron variant have found their way to the top of the list of Covid subvariants circulating in the US BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 now together account for nearly 70 percent of cases in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — squeezing out BA.5, which was dominant over the summer.
BA.5 is characterized by relatively mild, cold and flu-like symptoms, with many people complaining about sore throats. BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 do not have radically different symptoms from previous versions of Omicron in vaccinated people, said Dr. Steven Gordon, an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. People infected with these subvariants also tend to report cold symptoms: sore throats, runny noses, muscle aches, coughs and headaches. Symptoms are typically more prolonged in unvaccinated people, compared with those who are vaccinated, said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. Fever is much more common in people who are unvaccinated, he added.
If you have an unexplained sore throat, and then develop a fever and night sweats, “It’s much more likely to be Covid than your run of the mill cold,” said Dr. Justin Fiala, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Northwestern Medicine. BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 symptoms are more or less centered around and above the throat, Dr. Fiala said, as opposed to earlier versions of the virus, which affected the lungs.
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