United States is seeing a new surge of Covid-19 infections in schools, workplaces, and local government entities. Experts are cautioning the public to brace for a further proliferation of Covid-19 cases during the upcoming fall and winter months.
As per the new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there was a 24% increase in hospitalizations during the two-week period ending on 12th August 2023.
Wastewater monitoring has indicate a recent uptick in Covid-19 infections, particularly in the Western and Northeastern regions of the United States.
While public health authorities have said that the recent rise in Covid-19 hospitalizations is still relatively modest, the majority of those affect are exhibiting mild symptoms comparable to a cold or flu.
Most of the surge in Covid cases in United States is being driven by EG.5 “Eris” subvariant, a descendant of the Omicron lineage that originally emerge in November 2021.
While many scientists are more worried about new Covid variant call as BA.2.86.
The BA.2.86, also call as “pirola” by a group of scientists, was first identified in Denmark in July 2022.
Since then, it has been found in many other nations including US, Israel and UK.
BA.2.86 is a subvariant of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.
BA.2.86 has a number of mutations that are not found in other Omicron subvariants.
These mutations could make it more transmissible or better able to evade the immune system.
But, it is still too early to say for sure whether BA.2.86 is more dangerous than other Omicron subvariants.
World Health Organization (WHO) has classified BA.2.86 as a “variant under monitoring,” which means that it is being closely watch but does not yet warrant the designation of a “variant of concern.”
There are a few reasons why scientists are monitoring BA.2.86 closely.
- First, it is more transmissible than other Omicron subvariants. In a study publish in the journal Nature, researchers found that BA.2.86 was about 1.5 times more transmissible than BA.2, the dominant Omicron subvariant in the United States.
- Second, BA.2.86 has a number of mutations that could make it better able to evade the immune system. These mutations are locate in the spike protein, which is the part of the virus that binds to human cells. If BA.2.86 is better able to evade the immune system, it could make it more difficult for people to be protect from reinfection.
But, some public health experts caution against reading too much into the new variant.
It is important to note that these are just theoretical concerns.
There is no evidence yet that BA.2.86 is more transmissible or more likely to cause severe disease than other Omicron subvariants.
WHO has said that it is too early to say whether BA.2.86 will become the dominant variant of Covid-19.
But, the organization is continuing to monitor the situation closely.
BA.2.86 has spread globally and we don’t know how many people it has infected.
One thing that can be sure about COVID is that evolution will provide us with a more or less constant stream of new coronavirus variants, some of which will be more successful at infecting people.
If we talk about mutations it sounds scary and it can lead to serious problems, but it would be a mistake to think that it’s always the case.
BA.2.86 is one such new variant that has raise concern from some doctors and scientists because of the high number of mutations in its spike protein, the molecule on the virus surface that acts like a key for it to unlock and enter our cells.
It’s also the target for the vaccines, so changes in the spike might mean changes in the way the virus behaves, perhaps significantly.
But as things stand right now, we don’t have good data to be certain about this.
It’s this worry that there may be a new wave of infections that has got some people talking about the need to reintroduce measures that control viral spread.
At the start of the pandemic, one of the most persistent questions ask was whether people should protect themselves and others by wearing some form of face covering.
If it has spread widely, it seems to have put only a handful of people in hospital, indicating that immunity derive from vaccines and previous infections is still protecting us against serious, COVID.