| 2 October 2023, Monday |

England confirms 34 COVID cases linked to highly mutated variant

The UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA) said on Friday that 34 COVID-19 cases in England have been connected to the highly mutated strain BA.2.86.

When compared to XBB, the Omicron branch has more than 35 changes in crucial regions of the virus.1.5 was the prevalent variety during most of 2023, a number that was fairly comparable to the Omicron version that produced record infections.

As of September 4, five individuals had been hospitalized out of the 34 confirmed cases, and no deaths had been related to the new developing type.

The agency said 28 of the confirmed cases were identified from a single outbreak at a care home in Norfolk.

Moderna (MRNA.O) and rival Pfizer (PFE.N) said on Wednesday their updated COVID-19 vaccines generated strong responses in testing against the BA.2.86 subvariant.

BA.2.86 was first spotted in Denmark on July 24. It has since been detected in other symptomatic patients, in routine airport screening, and in wastewater samples in countries like Switzerland and South Africa in addition to Israel, Denmark, and the U.S.

Based on the new data, it is early to draw any conclusions about the behaviour of BA.2.86 in the wider UK population, but the variant may be sufficiently transmissible in close contact setting, said the agency.

“It is clear that there is some degree of widespread community transmission, both in the UK and globally, and we are working to ascertain the full extent of this”, said Renu Bindra, incident director, UKHSA.

  • Reuters