With most of the world already vaccinated or infected by the older variants of Covid, scientists do no expect another global health emergency on account of the BA.2.86 Covid variant.
“Even in the worst-case scenario, where BA.2.86 caused a major new wave of cases, we are not expecting to witness comparable levels of severe disease and death as we did earlier in the pandemic when the Alpha, Delta, or Omicron variants spread,” says Professor Francois Balloux, director of UCL Genetics institute, adding the majority of people have now been vaccinated, infected with Covid, or both.
Balloux said BA.2.86 was the most striking Covid strain found since the discovery of Omicron.
He explained: “The most plausible scenario is that the lineage acquired its mutations during a long-term infection in a immunocompromised person over a year ago and then spread back into the community.
“BA.2.86 has since then probably been circulating in a region of the world with poor viral surveillance, and has now been repeatedly exported to other places in the world.”
Balloux added that, in the coming weeks, they would have more information about how well the new variant fared compared to the Omicron strain of Covid.
Lately, Scientists have discovered a new variant of Covid named BA.2.86 in cities around the world including London.
The variant, which was discovered through genetic sequencing, has been found to have a large number of mutations, causing experts to be concerned about its potential spread.
BA.2.86 was first reported in Israel, then in Denmark and in the United States. Now, the variant has made its way to Britain.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed the detection, with the agency’s deputy director Meera Chand saying: “We are aware that BA.2.86 has been detected in the UK. UKHSA is assessing the situation and will provide further information in due course.”
It is currently unclear if the new variant causes a more severe form of coronavirus than the prior variants. Experts are also unsure about how infectious the variant is.
Thus far, what they do know is that the variant has more than 30 mutations in its spike protein compared to the current predominant variant.