TEXAS (KIAH) – There are two new COVID variants circulating that have become the most adept yet. Lab tests show they are better at evading immunity from a previous infection and vaccinations.

Subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are now the dominant strains in the United States. Dr. David Winter, MD, at Baylor Scott & White Health, said the newer variants spread faster and are more contagious.He added determining how severe they will be in the will be hard to predict. 

Meanwhile, researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch reported BQ 1.1 and another subvariant, XBB.1, have additional spike mutations impacting the efficacy of vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said COVID-19 vaccines and treatments remain the best lines of defense against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. However out of the nearly 30 million Texans, only 7.7 million have received a booster shot reported the Texas Department of State Health Services.

And with our low booster rates, Dr. Winter is urging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated or boosted.

“And the other big thing that we’re concerned about is most folks in America have not had either COVID or COVID vaccine in the last six months. So the collective immunity of this country has gone down. That opens the door for new variants to spread even faster,” he said.