COVID variant triples in new CDC estimates

“Now, history seems to be repeating itself with the emergence of a virus referred to as ‘COVID-23’ … ”

(WFQO, Pittsburgh) – In a concerning development, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a new mystery illness in China, following a trajectory reminiscent of the events leading to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which triggered a global lockdown.

The emerging illness is identified as a respiratory virus, predominantly affecting pediatric patients, leading to cases of pneumonia.

Health officials have stressed that this is not a typical flu or pneumonia but rather a “new virus,” echoing the urgency felt during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The parallel with the COVID-19 timeline is striking. In 2019, China notified the WHO on December 31st about a surge in pneumonia-like cases. By January 7th, 2020, just a week later, the WHO identified the causative agent as COVID-19, setting off a series of global alerts.

Now, history seems to be repeating itself with the emergence of a virus informally referred to as “COVID-23.”

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The WHO, only recently informed about this new pathogen on November 21st, 2023, has issued an official statement, raising concerns and urging heightened vigilance within the international community. For more details, the WHO statement can be accessed … read more. 

COVID variant BA.2.86 triples in new CDC estimates, now 8.8% of cases


CBS NEWS – Nearly 1 in 10 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are from the BA.2.86 variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated Monday, nearly triple what the agency estimated the highly mutated variant’s prevalence was two weeks ago.

Among the handful of regions with enough specimens reported from testing laboratories, BA.2.86’s prevalence is largest in the Northeast: 13.1% of cases in the New York and New Jersey region are blamed on the strain.

Monday’s figures mark the first time BA.2.86’s prevalence has surged enough to be listed as a standalone variant on the CDC’s estimates. Scientists first warned of the highly mutated strain’s discovery over the summer.

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“In previous Nowcast updates, BA.2.86 was too uncommon to be shown separately and was grouped with other BA.2 strains,” the CDC said Monday.

Before this point, officials have said the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases have been blamed on the XBB variant and a crowd of XBB’s closely related descendants. Those include the HV.1 and EG.5 variants that are currently predominant nationwide.

The CDC’s estimates carry wide margins of error around BA.2.86’s prevalence. As little as 4.8% or as much as 15.2% of circulating SARS-CoV-2 could be from BA.2.86, the agency says.

However, this latest estimate – 8.8% through Nov. 25 – is virtually triple what it was on Nov. 11, when 3.0% of new cases were estimated to be BA.2.86. The CDC typically publishes its variant estimates every other Friday, but had delayed last week’s release until after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

“It is important to note that early projections tend to be less reliable, since they depend on examining growth trends of a smaller number of sequences, especially as laboratory-based testing volume for SARS-CoV-2 has decreased substantially over time,” the agency said.

The World Health Organization also recently stepped up its classification of BA.2.86 and its descendants to a “variant of interest” after a rise in cases from the strain.

Early data on BA.2.86 suggests it does not appear to lead to worse or different symptoms than previous strains, the WHO said in its Nov. 21 risk evaluation, but noted a “substantial rise” in recent BA.2.86 reports … READ MORE. 



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