U.S. CDC said that the BA.2.86 COVID variant, nicknamed Pirola, may be more capable of infecting individuals who have previously had COVID-19 or who have received preventive vaccines, Reuters reported Wednesday.
BA.2.86 COVID variant could cause infections in vaccinated individuals, CDC reports but impact on severity of illnesses unclear
The CDC has mentioned that it’s currently too early to determine if this new variant could lead to more serious illnesses when compared to earlier versions.
This variant’s genetic changes raise concerns about its impact on vaccine protection and past infection immunity, as per the agency. The CDC stated that the recent rise in hospitalizations in the US is probably not caused by the BA.2.86 lineage.
This variant has been identified in the US, Denmark, and Israel. Researchers closely track BA.2.86 lineage with 36 distinct mutations from the prevalent XBB.1.5 variant. Yet, the CDC notes limited virus samples for accurate antibody testing.
The Pirola variant contains 30 spike protein mutations that are distinct from XBB.1.5, according to Dr. Rajendram Rajnarayanan, an expert from Arkansas State University. The variant could potentially have a greater ability to evade immunity or weaken the body’s established defenses, USA Today reported.
Concerns rise over new COVID-19 variant and vaccine compatibility
According to Dailymail, the new variant is causing worry due to its origin from an “earlier branch” of the coronavirus. The report states that this sets it apart from the variants targeted by current vaccines. Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases in the US and a fifth consecutive week of higher hospital admissions, the rates remain comparatively low when compared to past levels.
Over the last month, the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests has doubled in the US, Dailymail reported. And there has been a noticeable increase in Google searches related to COVID-19 symptoms in recent weeks. However, medical professionals working on the frontlines report milder symptoms despite higher case numbers.