New COVID-19 variant detected in US: What to know about BA.2.86

The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week it's tracking a new variant of COVID-19 called BA.2.86 that was first detected on July 24. 

Four countries – including the U.S. – have reported cases of BA.2.86, bringing the grand total to seven around the globe, according to global virus database GISAID

There's not a lot of information related to BA.2.86, but here's what we know so far:

BA.2.86 is a 'variant under monitoring'

BA.2.86 is a "variant under monitoring" since it has a lot of mutations, according to WHO. 

There are three sequences available of BA.2.86. The BA.2.86 mutation is related to BA.2. 

CDC investigating BA.2.86 

The CDC said its tracking the new lineage of the virus that causes COVID-19 and will continue to share more information as it becomes available.

A lineage is a "group of closely related viruses with a common ancestor," according to the CDC. A lineage might be designated by WHO as a "variant being monitored" due to "shared attributes and characteristics that may require public health action."

The CDC said new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 will continue to occur. 

"Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus," the CDC said. "Some changes and mutations allow the virus to spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines. As the virus spreads, it may change and become harder to stop."

What are the symptoms of BA.2.86?

While the CDC did not specify the symptoms of BA.2.86, it said that its advice on protecting yourself from COVID-19 doesn't change. That includes:

  • Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
  • Improving ventilation and spending time outside
  • Staying home if you feel sick
  •  Wearing a mask

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What countries have reported cases of BA.2.86?

There are seven reported cases of BA.2.86 in four countries as of Monday, according to GISAID's database. 

  • Israel: 1
  • United Kingdom: 1
  • Denmark: 3
  • U.S.: 2