CDC and WHO monitoring new Covid variant with large number of mutations A handful of cases of BA.2.86 have been identified globally, but scientists aren’t sure if the variant is capable of spreading widely.
CDC and WHO monitoring new Covid variant BA.2.86 with large number of mutations
Just the quick Facts!
It is not clear how transmissible BA.2.86 is. Experts said it seems capable of sidestepping vaccine protection to some degree.
“We have not seen a new variant in humans with this many new spike mutations happening all at once since the emergence of the original Omicron,” per Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary biologist at Fred Hutch Cancer Center.
Thus far: Only a handful of cases of the new variant, BA.2.86, have been identified globally. One case in Michigan, the variant has also been spotted in Denmark, Israel, and the UK, according to sequences uploaded to the GISAID global virus database.
The World Health Organization labeled BA.2.86 a “variant under monitoring” on Thursday. The designation applies to variants with an unusually large number of mutations that warrant tracking of their global spread.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said Thursday that it was monitoring the new variant, but its public health guidance remains the same.
“Based on the sequence, I think we can be very confident this [variant] is going to be relatively good at evading the antibodies that most people have from prior infections and vaccinations,” Bloom said. “What we still don’t know is, is this variant good enough at transmitting that it will really be able to spread widely around the world?”
What does BA.2.86 mean for booster shots and case counts?
In the one-month period from July 8 to August 5, weekly Covid hospitalizations rose 60%, though they are historically low compared to the same period over the last three years.
BA.2.86 was unlikely to be affecting Covid case counts in the U.S. as it was identified only recently and just received a formal name on Thursday. The other variants, is EG.5 or “Eris.”
Immunology Research will be monitoring the news for any changes.