Here’s what to know about the new COVID-19 variant BA.2.86
If forever exists, we’d vouch for COVID-19 as tangible proof.
Just when we all thought this nightmare had ended, here comes a new “highly mutated” COVID-19 variant nicknamed “Pirola” that’s been spreading in the United States and other countries such as Denmark and Israel.
Known officially as BA.2.86, this new COVID-19 contender comes hot on the heels of “Eris.” As of Aug. 25, nine cases have been reported in the GISAID database with three from Denmark, two each from South Africa and the United States, and one case in Israel and the United Kingdom. The first known case in the US was reported on Aug. 3 in Michigan.
But what caught the scientists’ attention is its unusual mutation lineup; it has a genetic makeup with more than 30 mutations compared with parent strain BA.2.
“The critical thing about this variant is that it has a whole host of mutations compared to some of the Omicron variants that emerged about two years ago,” Dr. Andrew Pekosz, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University, shared with Today.
🚨US CDC says new COVID lineage could cause infections in vaccinated individuals
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday the new BA.2.86 lineage of coronavirus may be more capable than older variants in causing infection in people who have… pic.twitter.com/4xZogjDobT
— DiedSuddenly (@DiedSuddenly_) August 24, 2023
This new COVID-19 variant might be strong enough even for those who’ve had COVID-19 or a jab. The CDC shared in its BA.2.86 risk assessment that it could be sneakier in causing infections among those who have either contracted COVID-19 and been vaccinated.
While an updated COVID-19 booster is already in the works to combat BA.2.86, the US FDA might only give the green light by the end of the month.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb Warns of a New Highly Mutated COVID Variant But Says Vaccines Are On the Way
"This new variant is as genetically different from Omicron as Omicron was from the original strain that emerged in Wuhan so this is a highly mutated variant" pic.twitter.com/Q9kIkAkra7
— Chief Nerd (@TheChiefNerd) August 22, 2023
With only a few reported cases, it’s still uncertain what this brings to the table. However, according to Dr. Pekosz, “there’s no data on symptoms associated with infection because the case numbers are just too small.”
These are however the most common symptoms associated with other COVID-19 variants:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Muscle aches
- Altered sense of smell and taste
While the updated boosters have yet to be rolled out, it’s better to not let your guard down. As the CDC suggests, prevention and precautionary measures still work against any COVID-19 variant. Here are the guidelines to follow according to the health agency:
- Wear a mask
- Keep your distance from crowded places
- Stay away from sick people or when someone is sneezing or coughing
- Wash your hands well and often
Introducing CDC’s Respiratory Virus Update, where we’ll share weekly updates through the fall and winter.
— CDC (@CDCgov) August 23, 2023
While there’s no reason to panic, being cautious and maintaining a healthy immune system are good safeguards. After all, who wants to go through the doom of another cabin fever?