The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday it is tracking a recently discovered COVID-19 strain, BA.2.86, after experts discovered a case of the highly-mutated strain in Michigan.
BA.2.86 is a sub variant of Omicron and has been detected in Israel, Denmark and the United States. “Today we are more prepared than ever to detect and respond to changes in the COVID-19 virus. 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,” CDC spokesperson Kathleen Conley said in a statement to CBS News.
This comes after the World Health Organization announced that it had classified BA.2.86 as a “variant under monitoring” due to its large number of mutations.
New @WHO variant under monitoring BA.2.86
V limited info available right now but large # of mutations needs closer monitoring
Surveillance, sequencing & #COVID19 reporting critical to track known/detect new variants
Updated page live soon⬇️https://t.co/VNvjJn8Xcv
— Maria Van Kerkhove (@mvankerkhove) August 17, 2023
Denmark said they were working to culture the virus in order to assess the possible threat posed by the new strain. The two cases detected in the country were not immunocompromised and had no “no epidemiological link”, the Statens Serum Institute said.
There is no indication that the new variant causes severe illness, it added.
Experts say reports of BA.2.86 being spotted in countries in three different continents Denmark, Israel and U.S. also suggest it is at least capable of transmitting widely and could have been spreading undetected for some time.
The first U.S. case of BA.2.86 was reported by a lab at the University of Michigan. According to records attached to the sequence uploaded to GISAID, a global virus database, the sample was sequenced by the university’s clinical microbiology lab during “baseline surveillance.”
The variants XBB.2.3, XBB.1.9.2, XBB.1.9.1, XBB, CH.1.1, and BA.2.75 were all under the WHO’s monitoring list as of August.