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About our BA.2.86 news

Latest news on BA.2.86 also known as Pirola, a new Covid variant that has been detected in several countries, including the UK. It has a high number of mutations, especially in the spike protein, which may affect its transmissibility, severity, and immune escape.

BA.2.86 was first reported in Israel on 13 August 2023. It has since been detected in Denmark, the US, and the UK. The UK case was identified in a patient tested at a London hospital on 13 August 2023, with no recent travel history. This suggests that there is established international transmission and a degree of community transmission within the UK.

BA.2.86 has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein relative to the current predominant variant XBB.1.5. This is the most striking Covid strain since the emergence of Omicron. The similarity of the genetic sequences in different countries implies a relatively recent emergence and rapid growth of BA.2.86, but this is a tentative analysis given the small number of sequences.

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are tracking BA.2.86 as a "variant under monitoring". The UK Health Security Agency has designated it as a variant for the purposes of tracking and assessment (V-23AUG-01).

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