OAN’s Brooke Mallory
2:54 PM – Monday, September 4, 2023
In late August, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that the novel BA.2.86 COVID-19 virus lineage could infect individuals who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations, boosters, or even those who have contracted the virus prior.
However, it is too soon to say if this will produce more severe sickness than prior variations, according to the CDC. The agency has now expressed concern regarding the efficacy of protection from vaccinations and prior infections due to the large number of mutations found in this specific lineage.
“The large number of mutations in this variant raises concerns of greater escape from existing immunity from vaccines and previous infections compared with other recent variants,” the CDC stated. “For example, one analysis of mutations suggests the difference may be as large as or greater than that between BA.2 and XBB.1.5, which circulated nearly a year apart.”
According to the CDC, “virus samples are not yet broadly available for more reliable laboratory testing of antibodies, and it is too soon to know the real-world impacts on immunity.”
Although a bit more data was given, the FDA stated that it had discovered at least two cases in the United States that had the BA.2.86 variation. Israel, the UK, South Africa, and Denmark were also discovered to have it.
One of the BA.2.86 cases was discovered in a person identified by the CDC’s traveler monitoring program, and it was observed that the discovery of cases in other nations provides proof of global transmission.
“Notably, the amount of genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 globally has declined substantially from previous years, meaning more variants may emerge and spread undetected for longer periods of time,” the assessment reads. “It is also important to note that the current increase in hospitalizations in the United States is not likely driven by the BA.2.86 variant. This assessment may change as additional data become available.”
The majority of Americans, according to the CDC, have COVID-19 antibodies from a prior infection, a vaccine, or both.
However, the EPA declared on August 23rd that the BA.2.86 lineage is not likely to be the cause of the recent small rise in hospital admissions in the United States.
“At this time, we don’t know how well this variant spreads, but we know that it spreads in the same way as other variants,” the agency further stated.
The BA.2.86 is a “variant under monitoring,” according to a senior WHO official, who also noted that there is “limited” information available about the variation.
Yet, other experts cautioned against making quick assumptions about the variant.
“[The] Intrinsic severity of a virus is a byproduct of many traits, a product of selection on other features. Any attempt to guess the intrinsic severity of BA.2.86 (within reasonable parameters) is just that—a guess,” Aris Katzourakis, a biologist with the University of Oxford, wrote. “It is far, far too early to evaluate the potential of this variant.”
The “improved and updated” COVID-19 vaccinations are expected to be released this fall by Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax, most likely making them accessible to people of all ages. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also expected to approve the vaccination booster doses in the coming weeks.
Additionally, a small number of establishments, including corporations, schools, offices, and hospitals, recently decided to reinstate mask regulations.
This sparked worries among some social media users that a larger move to reimpose requirements may be undertaken in the fall or winter in the United States.
“Employees must wear a medical-grade face covering (surgical mask, KN95 or N95) when indoors except when alone in an office with the door closed, actively eating, actively drinking at their desk or workstation, or if they are the only individual present in a large open workspace,” an unnamed Lionsgate manager wrote in a memo that was released to the press.
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