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WHO, US health regulators tracking new COVID-19 variant

*The World Health Organisation says the potential impact of the BA.2.86 mutations are currently unknown and undergoing careful assessment, disclosing the UN health body is monitoring upwards of 10 variants and their descent lineages

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and US health authorities Friday, August 18, 2023, disclosed they are closely monitoring a new variant of Covid-19, although the potential impact of BA.2.86 is currently unknown.

The global health body, in a bulletin about the pandemic issued late Thursday, August 17, classified the new variant as one under surveillance “due to the large number (more than 30) of spike gene mutations it carries.”

The variant has only been detected in Israel, Denmark and the United States, AFP report said.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also confirmed the health regulatory agency is also closely monitoring the variant, in a message on the social platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

WHO revealed there are only four known sequences of the variant, the WHO has said.

The UN organisation also said: “The potential impact of the BA.2.86 mutations are presently unknown and undergoing careful assessment.”

The WHO is currently monitoring upwards of 10 variants and their descent lineages.

Most countries that had established surveillance systems for the virus have since dismantled operations, determining it is no longer as severe and therefore could not justify the expense — a move the WHO has denounced, calling instead for stronger monitoring.

In the last reporting period between July 17 and August 13, more than 1.4 million new cases of Covid-19 were detected and more than 2,300 deaths reported, according to a WHO statement.

The case load represents a rise by 63 percent from the previous 28-day period while deaths were down by 56 percent.

As of August 13, there were more than 769 million cases of Covid-19 confirmed and more than 6.9 million deaths worldwide, although the real toll is expected to be much higher because many cases went undetected.

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