What to know about new COVID variants like EG.5, FL.1.5.1, and BA.2.86 are now spreading

Health authorities say they are closely following the spread of three new strains of coronavirus (COVID-19) now circulating across the country.

◀ Watch the video: Dr. Scott Gottlieb says he’s “very concerned” about the new coronavirus variant

Health authorities say they are closely following the spread of three new strains of coronavirus (COVID-19) now circulating across the country.

The levels of hospitalizations and deaths due to the Corona virus are currently still well below the previous peaks seen during the past summer and winter waves of the virus, but they have been rising steadily since 2019. several weeks.

Public health officials said they are well-equipped for the virus’s recent seasonal surge, and upcoming coronavirus tests and vaccines are expected to work on the growing variants across the country.

But the emergence of a new “highly mutated” variant raised questions among virus trackers about what the coming months could hold.

Here’s the latest we know about the new coronavirus (COVID-19) variants that are now on the rise.

What are the current new coronavirus variants?

There are two types that are fairly prevalent, and one – the highly mutated variant – that is not very widespread at the moment. Every two weeks, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Publish Forecast of coronavirus (COVID-19) variants prevalent across the country.

5 variant is estimated to be the “dominant” strain in the United States because it accounts for the greater share of new cases of COVID-19 than other variants. On August 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that EG.5 constituted 20.6% of new infections.

Behind EG.5 – unofficially nickname “Iris” by virus-tracker T Ryan Gregory on social media — is a long list of other closely related variants, nearly all of which are descended from last winter’s dominant XBB strains.

FL.1.5.1 is the second largest strain with 13.3% of infections in the United States, CDC estimates. FL.1.5.1, which Gregory dubbed “Fornax”, nearly doubled from the previous week when it had an estimated 7.1% of the variants in circulation.

Both EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 are descendants of the XBB variant that share a leap Known as F456L, which seems to help them spread more than their other virus peers.

Authorities are also tracking a new highly mutated strain of the virus called BA.2.86. This strain was called “Perola”. User @JPWeiland on social media. The prevalence of BA.2.86 is still too small to appear in CDC estimates and is currently clustered with its distant ancestor BA.2.

while only a small handful Cases have been reported all over the world, incl One in MichiganHowever, the large number of mutations in some key parts of the virus has accelerated investigations into the risks that BA.2.86 might pose.

Are the symptoms of new coronavirus variants different?

The symptoms of the coronavirus appear to be very similar. Since the emergence of EG.5 and FL.1.5.1, officials have generally downplayed claims of drastic changes in symptoms caused by these new, closely related variants, compared to their close relatives of the Omicron variants that emerged earlier in the pandemic.

he was there No evidence of increased disease severity from the new EG.5 strain, the World Health Organization reported on August 9.

Experts say other changes in the population, such as immunity from previous infections and vaccination, are also hampering attempts to compare whether new variants are responsible for shifts in reported symptoms from the virus.

In recent months, symptoms of COVID-19 appear to have remained largely the same as they were in the past year, with signs of a cold and flu-like symptoms — cough, headache, muscle aches, runny nose, and fatigue — appearing. mentioned In most cases.

As for BA.2.86, officials say it’s too early to say whether this strain will cause more serious disease due to its troubling array of mutations.

The only case in Michigan was “an adult with mild symptoms, who (the patient) was not hospitalised,” Chelsea Wuth, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement to CBS News.

Danish health officials He said Their three BA.2.86 variant cases did not have “symptoms other than those normally seen” of COVID-19.

United kingdom He said She was tested with BA.2.86 in a London hospital, but it was not currently possible to “assess relative severity by variant” based on their data.

Do coronavirus tests work with new coronavirus variants?

It appears to be effective, although that could change if one strain becomes more prevalent. The Food and Drug Administration has so far Nothing new is marked Issues related to variants EG.5 and FL.1.5.1, from its ongoing joint effort with the National Institutes of Health to study the performance of COVID-19 tests with novel strains. One positive development – modeling indicates that the variant will not evade tests better than other previous Omicron strains.

“Now we have the genome map and all that information. We also have the epitopes assigned to all of the antigen-dependent tests. “We can do computational analyzes to see whether or not we think there’s going to be any effect on test performance,” said Todd Merchack, co-president of RADx Tech. of the National Institutes of Health. initiative at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Mirchak said the initiative’s “good machine” was preparing to run manual trials to check whether home COVID tests were less sensitive to EG.5 and other variables, in case the FDA decided to recheck home COVID tests for the new virus. strains.

“We’re using the same protocols, so we have comparisons across every test that’s on the market, every test that’s in development, that we can compare against each other so we have data on everything,” Merczak said.

Experts say broad changes to BA.2.86 could alter the performance of some tests, if they become more widespread.

UK health authorities He said It was “unreliable to attempt to predict the combined effect of a large number of mutations” from BA.2.86, but acknowledged that there was insufficient information to “predict a significant antigenic change”.

Will fall 2023 coronavirus vaccine boosters work with new coronavirus variants?

It is expected to be effective. And vaccine makers say they expect the upcoming rollout of the new COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses next month to be suitable for EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 as well, since they are closely related to the XBB.1.5 variant targeted by the revised shots. recommended by Food and Drug Administration And fromearlier this year.

“We try to choose the antigen that will provide the maximum amount of immunity so that people are protected as widely as possible, anticipating that the virus may evolve between the time the recommendation is made and the time the vaccine is produced,” Dr Sylvie Briand of the World Health Organization He told reporters On August 9th.

On August 17, Moderna He said Preliminary results from human clinical trial data indicate that its updated vaccines will result in a “significant increase in neutralizing antibodies against EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 variants”. Pfizer says data from a recent study in mice suggests its vaccine would also be effective.

CDC spokeswoman Kathleen Conley said in a statement Aug. 18 that the CDC, based on evidence and input from an FDA advisory panel, expects “vaccines updated in the fall with the XBB.1.5 formulation.” Monovalents will better protect public health.”

It is unclear if BA.2.86 could turn these plans upside down. Experts say the strain’s mutations may be enough to produce the next doses “Pretty bad match” If it circulated more widely.

But one official said the FDA sees no need this season to change the prescription for a COVID vaccine. Another meeting of external vaccine advisers on this topic is not planned until preparations for the vaccination campaign begin next year.

“With the exception of the emergence of a significantly more virulent viral variant causing COVID-19, the FDA expects to revisit the formulation of the vaccine during the first half of 2024,” the FDA official said in an email dated Aug. 16.

© 2020 CBS Interactive. all rights are save.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button