"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

CDC tracks latest COVID strain

August 18, 2023 – The CDC is tracking a newly discovered strain of COVID-19 called BA.2.86.

On Thursday, the agency published on Xformerly often known as Twitter, whose origins have been discovered within the United States, Denmark and Israel.

“While we learn more about BA.2.86, CDC recommendations for protection against COVID-19 remain the same,” the CDC said on X.

A case of BA.2.86 was discovered in a laboratory on the University of Michigan, CBS News reportedIt shouldn't be clear how the university obtained the sequenced sample. A case has also been identified within the United Kingdom, the news agency said.

The World Health Organization can also be monitoring BA.2.86 and has classified it as a “variant under observation.”

“More data is needed to understand this #COVID19 variant and the extent of its spread, but the number of mutations deserves attention. WHO will keep countries and the public updated as soon as we know more,” the The WHO said on X.

The strain is so latest that scientists don't know whether BA.2.86 spreads more easily, causes more severe symptoms than existing strains, or is more immune to vaccines and the natural immunity developed lately.

Initial research suggests that BA.2.86 “will evade as much or more antibodies elicited by pre-omicron variants and first-generation omicron variants than XBB.1.5,” said Dr. Jesse Bloom, a virologist on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, in a slide presentation released on Thursday. (XBB.1.5 is the omicron subvariant targeted within the updated COVID booster shot that might be released soon.)

Nevertheless, Bloom noted, “Even if a highly mutated new variant like BA.2.86 begins to spread, we will be in a far better position than we were in 2020 and 2021, because most people now have some immunity to SARS-CoV-2.”