New subvariants, family gatherings may bring more Covid-19 after holiday, but experts don't expect severe surge

November 24, 2022 at 12:17

CNN —As millions of Americans travel to gather with friends and family over the next few days, there’s a good chance that Covid-19 will follow.
Experts expect that Thanksgiving gatherings will stir up social networks and give new coronavirus subvariants fresh pockets of vulnerable people to infect.
As a result, cases and hospitalizations may tick up after the holiday, as they have for the past two years.
And we are concerned that after holiday gathering, lots of people coming together, that we may see increases in Covid-19 cases as well,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday on CNN.
Will new subvariants drive a wave of cases?
The BQ subvariants of Omicron have risen to dominate transmission in the US.
For the week ending Nov. 19, the CDC estimates that BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 were causing about half of all new Covid-19 cases in the US.
Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have remained flat for the past four weeks.
Many experts say they feel hopeful that we won’t see the big waves of winters past – certainly nothing like the original Omicron variant, with its jaw-dropping peak of nearly a million new daily infections.
“It’s probably got a bit more of a fitness advantage, so what we’re seeing is gradual replacement without a massive change in the total number of Covid-19 cases,” he said.
They’ve shown marked resistance to the antibodies that are available to protect and treat people who are vulnerable to severe Covid-19 infections.
But these subvariants will land at a time when population immunity is higher than ever, thanks to vaccines and infections.