More than 300 subvariants of Omicron circulating

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Two new Omicron subvariants are causing a higher and higher percentage of COVID-19 cases across the country.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to mutate, now into hundreds of unique strains and that’s causing concern for public health experts and people at high risk for severe COVID-19.

The State Department of Public Health reporting near-average numbers in new cases, deaths and a slight increase in hospitalizations. A similar scene across the country, cases actually trending down but what’s causing them is changing. New variants are taking over.

Gone are the days when we named new variants with new Greek letters. Now, we’re almost exclusively dealing with subvariants of Omicron, more than 300 circulating around the country.

The new offenders, Omicron BA.46, causing 12-percent of cases right now, according to the CDC. BA.5 is detected in 68-percent of new cases. Alongside those, BQ.1, BQ.1.1 and BF.7 accounting for five percent of cases.

They are all still considered Omicron, so the new boosters remain effective. It’s bad news though, for those ready for COVID-19 to end. More sub-variants means more resistance to immunity gained from vaccines and previous infection.

“I think it’s definitely concerning. COVID-19 definitely still an issue. People like to think it has gone away but it definitely hasn’t,” said Samantha Govoni.

“I think that we are lucky as young people that… I guess its more of a privilege you don’t have to worry about it as much but it still is a concern,” said Jenny Brayton.

Health experts say this subvariant train isn’t stopping any time soon. Varying vaccination levels from no shots to three, and sometimes four, creates an environment ripe for mutation as the virus finds ways to work around all the different protection levels in place.