US warns new spreading Covid variant could be most infectious yet

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have detected the presence of a new Covid variant that has a higher potential to to infect people already vaccinated against the virus.

Officials have confirmed the presence of BA.2.86, a highly mutated form of Covid-19, in wastewater within the United States.

The CDC did not indicate where in the US the variant was identified. It has previously been detected in the UK, Denmark, South Africa, and Israel, as well as within the wastewater of Switzerland.

‘BA.2.86 may be more capable of causing infection in people who have previously had COVID-19 or who have received COVID-19 vaccines,’ the CDC said on Wednesday.

However, the agency also noted that existing tests and treatments appear to be effective against the new variant.

BA.2.86 is a highly mutated form of BA.1, better known as the Omicron variant.

The new variant has over 30 amino acid differences from its closest relative, BA.2.8, making it ‘radically different in structure,’ the CDC said.

‘The large number of mutations in this variant raises concerns of greater escape from existing immunity from vaccines and previous infections compared with other recent variants,’ the CDC said.

Officials said it is too soon to know how severe or transmissible the new variant is. Only a total of nine cases have been confirmed so far.

Mutated variants of the coronavirus have been spreading rapidly over the course of the year. In February, the Eris variant began spreading across Europe. By July, the variant was responsible for nearly 200,000 infections worldwide.

Later in July, scientists in Indonesia identified the most extremely mutated variant ever detected in a patient hospitalized in Jakarta.

The variant contained over 113 unique mutations – more than double the amount found in the original Omicron variant.

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