WHO and US Authorities Vigilant as New BA.2.86 COVID-19 Variant Emerges”
GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) – The World Health Organization (WHO) and US health authorities have announced their close monitoring of a novel variant of Covid-19, known as BA.2.86, though its potential impact remains uncertain.
The WHO has categorized this new variant as one under surveillance, primarily due to its “large number (more than 30) of spike gene mutations,” as stated in a recent bulletin regarding the ongoing pandemic. Thus far, BA.2.86 has only been identified in Israel, Denmark, and the United States.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also confirmed their active monitoring of this variant through a message on the social platform X (formerly known as Twitter). As of now, there are only four known genetic sequences of the BA.2.86 variant, according to the WHO.
The WHO noted, “The potential impact of the BA.2.86 mutations is presently unknown and undergoing careful assessment.” Currently, the WHO is monitoring more than 10 variants and their descendant lineages.
While many countries that previously established surveillance systems for the virus have since dismantled these operations, citing a less severe situation, the WHO has criticized these decisions, advocating for stronger ongoing monitoring.
In the most recent reporting period spanning from July 17 to August 13, over 1.4 million new cases of Covid-19 were identified, with more than 2,300 reported deaths, according to a statement from the WHO. This case load represents a 63 percent increase compared to the preceding 28-day period, while deaths have decreased by 56 percent.
As of August 13, there have been more than 769 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide, resulting in over 6.9 million recorded deaths. However, experts anticipate that the actual toll is considerably higher, as many cases have gone undetected.