World public health agencies are closely monitoring a newly identified strain of the virus responsible for COVID-19.
The BA.2.86 coronavirus strains has garnered attention due to its high number of mutations and has been labeled a “variant under monitoring” by the World Health Organization.
“Although COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency, it remains a global health threat,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.
“Just yesterday, WHO classified a new variant with a large number of mutations, BA.2.86, as a variant under monitoring, highlighting once again the need for all countries to maintain surveillance.”
“More data are needed to understand this COVID-19 variant and the extent of its spread, but the number of mutations warrants attention,” the health agency stated on its X account.
“WHO will update countries and the public as we learn more.”
The organization further emphasized the importance of continued surveillance, sequencing and reporting as the virus evolves, noting that they are currently tracking three variants of interest and monitoring seven variants.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also keeping a close watch on BA.2.86.
“As we learn more about BA.2.86, CDC’s advice on protecting yourself from COVID-19 remains the same.” CDC spokeswoman Kathleen Conley told CBS News.
“Today we are more prepared than ever to detect and respond to changes in the COVID-19 virus,” Conley continued. “Scientists are working now to understand more about the newly identified lineage in these 4 cases and we will share more information as it becomes available.”
Pfizer announced that its updated COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated neutralizing activity against the “Eris” subvariant in a study conducted on mice.
This subvariant, also known as EG.5, is similar to the XBB.1.5 subvariant and is a sublineage of the Omicron variant. Recent government data indicates EG.5 accounts for over 17% of U.S. COVID-19 cases.