Credits By: The Times Of India
There has been a lot of focus on the Omicron subvariant “Eris,” but now a new COVID variant called BA.2.86 is making headlines for its “radically different” characteristics.
The health community is keeping a close eye on a new strain of COVID-19 that has a lot of mutations.
A novel strain, BA.2.86, has been classified as a “variant under monitoring” by the WHO.
There is no indication that it spreads more quickly or causes more severe sickness. This variety, found in Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Israel, is attentively monitored by scientists.
Analysing Eris Prevalence and Its Variants
This summer, the EG.5 “Eris” subvariant, a descendant of the Omicron lineage, has been linked to a number of COVID infections and hospitalizations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
Due to the vast array of over 30 mutations found in the BA.2.86 strain, health authorities are now on high alert.
Houston Methodist Hospital’s Medical Director of Diagnostic Microbiology, Dr. S. Wesley Long, says that BA.2.86 comes from an “earlier branch” of the coronavirus family. Therefore, it’s distinct from the strain currently protected against by immunizations. Whether BA.2.86 has advantages in competing with other virus strains or evading immune responses from previous infection or vaccination remains unclear.
The Multiplication of Variants and Their Difficulty to Spot
Many nations have drastically reduced COVID-19 testing, making it more difficult to find new varieties.
Dr. Eric Topol, an expert in genetics and the head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, has warned that the rapid detection of new cases of BA.2.86 is causing concern.
Topol says BA.2.86 is “radically in structure” different from earlier variations because of all the mutations it has undergone. The big question is whether or if BA.2.86 turns out to be highly contagious.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that COVID-19 cases be continuously monitored and sequenced. However, there currently needs to be more data available about BA.2.86.
Comprehending Disease Intensity and Vaccine Protection
Dr. Topol warns that vulnerable groups could see an increase in disease and mortality if BA.2.86 were to be widely disseminated.
However, concluding that BA.2.86 causes more severe sickness is still too soon to tell. A spokesman for the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses that current evidence does not disclose the full scope of hazards to public health presented by BA.2.86 beyond those posed by other circulating lineages.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, including Rowland Kao, warn that a novel variety could pose severe problems to healthcare systems if it causes a spike in COVID-19 cases combined with other viruses.
Resistance of Vaccines to New Strains
According to Dr. Long, the current immunizations are still an effective means of protection against disease and death.
The XBB form of Omicron is the intended target of the COVID booster dosages now in development. Recently, Moderna revealed that its boosted vaccine, after being upgraded, now protects against both the EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 strains. The vaccination has also been effective against the XBB strains of Omicron that are currently prevalent.
Pfizer also claims that its revised COVID-19 vaccine neutralized the Eris subvariant in a mouse investigation.