BY ERIN PRATER

Omicron spawn BQ.1 and its offspring—the highly immune-evasive BQ.1.1—are coming in hot in the U.S.

The duo comprises more than 11% of COVID cases, according to updated projections released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency hadn’t listed the variants until then because they were estimated to comprise less than 1% of those circulating. Previously, they had been reported under parent lineage BA.5.

Combined, the two are less than one percentage point away from taking the No. 2 spot in the nation, currently held by BA.4.6, estimated to comprise 12.2% of cases. Cases of leading variant BA.5 are on the decline, estimated to comprise less than 70% of cases as of Friday.

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