On Thursday, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said it tracks a new, highly mutated virus lineage that causes Covid-19.
The Centres for Disease Control said in a post on messaging platform X that the lineage is named BA.2.86 and has been detected in the US, Denmark, and Israel.
The agency said,” As we learn more about BA. 2.86, the advice of the CDC on protecting yourself from Covid-19 remains the same.”
Moreover, earlier on Thursday, the World Health Organisation said in a post on X that it had classified BA.2.86 as a ” variant under monitoring” because of the large number of mutations it carries.
The WHO also said that, so far, only a few sequences of the variant have been reported from a handful of countries.
Moreover, Dr. S. Wesley Long, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist, explained that the new lineage, which has 36 transformations from the currently dominant XXB 1.5 Covid variant, “harkens back to an earlier branch” of the virus.
He said whether BB2.86 can out-compete other virus strains or have any advantage in escaping immune responses from prior infection or vaccination remains to be seen.
Jess Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutch Cancer Center, said in a slide deck published on Thursday that early analysis shows that the new variant ” will have equal or greater escape than XXB.1.5 from antibodies elicited by pre-Omicron and first-generation Omicron variants.
The Omicron subvariant XBB1.5 is the strain vaccines target in upcoming Covid booster shots.
Bloom slides more than the most likely strategy is that BA.2.86 is less transmissible than current dominant variants. Hence, it never spreads widely, but more sequencing data is still needed.
Dr. Long also stated, “My biggest concern would be that it could cause a bigger spike in cases than we have seen in recent waves, and the boosters will still help you fight off Covid in general.”