Emergence of a Highly Mutated COVID Variant in Michigan

emergence-of-a-highly-mutated-covid-variant-in-michigan

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that they are keeping an eye on a newly found COVID-19 strain, BA.2.86, after a case of the highly mutated strain was found in Michigan.

“We have more tools than ever before to find changes in the COVID-19 virus and deal with them.”  Scientists are trying to learn more about the newly found lineage in these 4 cases, and we will share more information as we get it, said CDC representative Kathleen Conley in a statement to CBS News.

It comes after the World Health Organization said BA.2.86 was a “variant under monitoring” because it had so many changes.

Rarely does a strain move quickly into the WHO’s “variant under monitoring” group. Only four cases of this type have been found in the whole world. Les people who keep track of viruses gave it the name BA.2.86 less than a day ago.

It’s too soon to say if the version will be more dangerous than the forms of the virus that are already out there. The U.N. body says it needs more information to figure out how dangerous BA.2.86 could be, but because it has changed so much, it moved up the classification process.

The strain has had dozens of genetic changes, which is the same kind of evolutionary jump as when the first Omicron version appeared in 2021. This has made virologists curious as cases have started to pop up around the world. Some key parts of the virus have changed, which could help it get around the body’s protection from previous attacks or vaccinations.

Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary scientist at the Fred Hutch Cancer Center, said in a slide show that came out Thursday, “Deep mutational scanning suggests that the BA.2.86 variant will have the same or better ability to avoid antibodies than XBB.1.5.”

XBB.1.5 is the type from which many new strains have come, and the Food and Drug Administration had already chosen it as the strain to target with this fall’s booster shots.

Bloom said that BA.2.86 is 36 times different from the XBB.1.5 version.

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Global Spread of BA.2.86 Variant Raises Concerns, First U.S. Case Detected

emergence-of-a-highly-mutated-covid-variant-in-michigan
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that they are keeping an eye on a newly found COVID-19 strain, BA.2.86, after a case of the highly mutated strain was found in Michigan.

Experts say that the fact that BA.2.86 has been found in Denmark, Israel, and the U.S. shows that it is at least able to spread widely and may have been doing so for a long time without being noticed.

A lab at the University of Michigan found the first case of BA.2.86 in the United States. Information added to GISAID, a global virus database, about the sequence says that the sample was sequenced by the university’s clinical microbiology lab as part of “baseline surveillance.”

It is not clear if the samples came from a sick patient in the university’s health system or from somewhere else.

A representative for the University of Michigan Medical School didn’t want to say anything about where the sequence might have come from, instead referring questions to the state health department of Michigan. When asked for response, a spokesman for Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services couldn’t give one right away.

In Denmark, health officials say they are currently trying to grow the virus in a lab. This is an important step in figuring out how dangerous the highly-mutated type is. There was “no epidemiological link” between the two people who got sick, and neither of them had a weak immune system.

COVID versions BA.2.86 and EG.5 are being watched for their spread.

For now, experts say BA.2.86 will have to show it can beat other fast-spreading relatives of the XBB Omicron variant that are already on the rise around the world if it wants to be more than a “scientific curiosity.”

Estimates from the CDC that came out earlier this month showed that one cousin of XBB, called EG.5, had already reached nearly 1 in 5 cases across the country.

The CDC is going to put out new predictions on Friday. The agency says that BA.2.86 will stay combined with its distant parent, the Omicron variant known as BA.2, until it hits 1% frequency in its weighted figures.

Drug companies are getting ready to release new COVID-19 medicines next month that will protect against the XBB types of the virus, which are similar to EG.5. Moderna said Thursday that the first clinical study results from the new shots showed “a significant boost in neutralizing antibodies” for EG.5.

Those could be set back if BA.2.86 gets to more people. Bloom said he thinks the changes in the strain are big enough that the XBB-targeted vaccines could be a “fairly poor match” to BA.2.86.

But he stressed that BA.2.86 is still rare for now, and that the body may still be able to fight off the highly altered version with other defenses.

 

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Source: Yahoo Life

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