New Covid Options: What you need to know about BA.2.86 and EG.5

        EG.5 is spreading rapidly, but experts say it is no more dangerous than previous versions. Another new variant, called BA.2.86, was closely monitored for mutations.
        There are growing concerns about Covid-19 variants EG.5 and BA.2.86. In August, EG.5 became the dominant variant in the United States, with the World Health Organization classifying it as a “variant of interest,” meaning it has a genetic change that confers an advantage, and its prevalence is rising.
        BA.2.86 is much less common and accounts for only a fraction of the cases, but scientists have been shocked at the number of mutations it carries. So how much should people worry about these options?
        While severe illness among the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions is always a concern, as is the long-term nature of any infected person with COVID-19, experts say EG.5 does not pose a significant threat, or at least not. The currently dominant primary option will pose a greater threat than any other.
        Andrew Pekosh, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University, said: “There are concerns that this virus is increasing, but it is not like the virus that has been circulating in the United States for the past three to four months.” … Not much different.” Bloomberg University School of Public Health. “So I think that’s why I’m worried about this option right now.”
       Even the World Health Organization said in a statement that based on available data, “the public health risk posed by EG.5 is estimated to be low globally.”
        The variant was discovered in China in February 2023 and first detected in the US in April. It is a descendant of Omicron’s XBB.1.9.2 variant and has a notable mutation that helps it evade immune system antibodies against earlier variants and vaccines. This dominance may be why EG.5 has become the dominant strain worldwide, and may also be one of the reasons why new crown cases are on the rise again.
       The mutation “may mean more people will be susceptible because the virus can evade more immunity,” Dr. Pecos said.
        But EG.5 (also known as Eris) does not appear to have any new potential in terms of infectivity, symptoms, or the ability to cause serious disease. According to Dr. Pekosh, diagnostic tests and treatments such as Paxlovid are still effective.
        Dr. Eric Topol, executive vice president of the Scripps Research Center in La Jolla, Calif., said he was not overly concerned about the option. However, he would feel better if the new vaccine formula, which is expected to be released in the fall, was already on the market. The updated booster was developed based on a different variant similar to the EG.5 gene. It is expected to provide better protection against EG.5 than last year’s vaccine, which targeted the original strain of the coronavirus and the earlier Omicron, which was only distantly related.
        “My biggest concern is the high-risk population,” Dr. Topol said. “The vaccine they’re getting is a far cry from where the virus is and where it’s going.”
        Another new variant that scientists are closely watching is BA.2.86, nicknamed Pirola. BA.2.86, derived from another variant of Omicron, has been clearly associated with 29 cases of the new coronavirus across four continents, but experts suspect it has a wider distribution.
        Scientists have paid particular attention to this variant because of the large number of mutations it carries. Many of these are found in the spike protein that viruses use to infect human cells and that our immune system uses to recognize viruses. Jesse Bloom, a professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center who specializes in viral evolution, said the mutation in BA.2.86 represents an “evolutionary leap of the same size” from the original strain of the coronavirus compared to the change in Omicron’s first variant.
        Data published this week by Chinese scientists on the X site (formerly known as Twitter) showed that BA.2.86 was so different from previous versions of the virus that it easily avoided antibodies made against earlier infections, even more so than EG. 5. the escape. Evidence (not yet published or peer-reviewed) suggests that updated vaccines will also be less effective in this regard.
       Before you despair, research also shows that BA.2.86 may be less contagious than other variants, although studies in lab cells don’t always match how the virus behaves in the real world.
        The next day, Swedish scientists published on platform X more encouraging results (also unpublished and unpeered) showing that antibodies produced by people newly infected with Covid do provide some protection against BA.2.86 when tested in the lab. protection. Their results show that the antibodies produced by the new vaccine will not be completely powerless against this variant.
        “One possible scenario is that BA.2.86 is less contagious than current variants and therefore will never be widely distributed,” Dr. Bloom wrote in an email to The New York Times. “However, it is also possible that this variant is widespread – we will only have to wait for more data to find out.”
       Dana G. Smith is a reporter for Health magazine, where she covers everything from psychedelic therapies to exercise trends and Covid-19. Read more about Dana G. Smith

Post time: Sep-05-2023