As 2023 starts, many health experts believe watching out for new coronavirus variants will be increasingly important to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the new year.

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In the United States, omicron subvariants are still the cause of almost all COVID-19 infections.

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While omicron spreads easily, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows it causes less severe illness and fewer deaths than earlier variants.

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”I hope it continues in that direction, but there’s no guarantee,” Dr. William Schaffner with Vanderbilt University Medical Center said.

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The latest omicron subvariant now accounts for more than 40% of U.S. COVID-19 cases.

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Offshoots continue to spread globally as well, especially in China after the country lifted the bulk of its COVID-19 restrictions.

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The surge there has prompted the U.S. to require a negative COVID-19 test for all travelers from China beginning Jan. 5.

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