28 UK cases were reported from a single elderly care home in Norfolk
London, Sep 9, 2023- The UK has recorded 34 cases of the highly mutated BA.2.86 Covid variant, while the global number of infections rose to 65.
According to the UK Health Security Agency (HSA), of the 34 cases, 28 were reported from a single elderly care home in Norfolk — an early indicator that the variant may be sufficiently transmissible to have impact in close contact settings.
Further the UKHSA’s latest technical briefing on SARS-CoV-2 variants revealed 5 hospitalisation and no deaths.
The data suggest established community transmission of BA.2.86 within the UK.
It is based on the detection of multiple unlinked cases in different regions of the UK, without identified travel links, and relationship between cases.
The finding, however, does not confirm that BA.2.86 has a growth advantage within the UK compared to other circulating variants, the agency said.
“While BA.2.86 is has a significant number of mutations to the viral genome compared to other currently circulating Covid variants, the data so far is too limited to draw firm conclusions about the impact this will have on the transmissibility, severity or immune escape properties of the virus,” said Renu Bindra, Incident Director, UKHSA, in a statement.
She said that the UKHSA scientists are working with international partners to culture the samples and analyse the evidence.
“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. In the meantime, it remains vital that all those eligible come forward to receive their autumn vaccine as soon as it is offered to them,” Bindra said.
Globally, as of September 5, there are 33 sequences from human cases identified as BA.2.86 available in GISAID from 9 countries — Canada (1), Denmark (12), France (2), Israel (2), Portugal (2), South Africa (3), Sweden (5), UK (2) and US (4).
The UK is yet to add the sequences of the newly identified cases, which makes the total global figure as 65.
In addition, some countries including the US and Thailand have detected the virus from wastewater samples.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has also warned of “concerning trends” for Covid ahead of winter.
“We continue to see concerning trends for Covid-19 ahead of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a recent press conference.
The WHO is “monitoring this variant closely to assess its transmissibility and potential impact”, he added. (Agency)