Why should we be cautious about the “Berula” variant of the Corona strain after the Health Organization updated its classification?

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The World Health Organization recently moved one of the six currently spreading variants of the Coronavirus to the highest level among variants of concern. As it has become a variant “of concern” after several weeks ago it was a variant “under surveillance.”

The BA.2.86 variant first appeared in the United States last August and is now the third most common variant, causing an estimated 1 in 11 new cases of COVID-19 in the United States, according to the latest statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of which. 

The mutant “BA.2.86,” also known as “Perula,” has captured the interest of researchers due to its extensive genetic mutations, numbering over 30. Explore the intriguing characteristics of this mutant and its impact on genetic material.

Although the World Health Organization says that the current risk from this family of viruses appears low, it nevertheless stresses that more caution must be exercised.

“We have seen a slow and steady increase in its spread around the world,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, said in a video posted on social media. 

She added: “By describing it as a variant of interest, this will help strengthen the surveillance of these types of variants around the world as well as stimulate research to understand whether they cause more severe symptoms or are more able to evade the immune system.”

Slow development

The emergence of the variant sparked a wave of research when it caught the world’s attention last summer because it shared many of the characteristics that caused the Omicron strain to spread about two years ago and led to a rise in hospitalizations and deaths globally.

With more than 30 mutations in its spike proteins, “BA.2.86” was so genetically distinct from previous versions of the virus that scientists feared it might evade vaccines and acquire immunity as a result of previous infection, which could cause a widespread wave of spread.

But what’s puzzling is that BA.2.86 didn’t spread in the same way that Omicron did, according to CNN .

Some studies indicated that with the development of all its new mutations, this variant lost some of its ability to infect the body’s cells, which slowed their growth.

Other studies found that the variant did not completely evade the body’s immunity and that the current Covid-19 vaccine provided some protection against it.

However, researchers downplayed the importance of this optimism, by warning that even if there is currently the ability to deal with the original “BA.2.86” variant, it is still evolving, and may produce a sub-mutant and become a force to be reckoned with.

BA.2.86 continues to evolve and give birth to new subvariants, says Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle.

Bloom adds: “Currently, it can be seen that infections caused by the JN.1 sub mutant are increasing faster than the parent BA.2.86.”

The World Health Organization announced last week that Covid-19 still poses a threat, with new variants of the coronavirus causing the pandemic to spread steadily around the world.

The World Health Organization is not only concerned about infection and acute illness but also the long-term effects of the virus, commonly known as long Covid or post-Covid cases. Stay informed about the potential impacts of Covid-19 beyond the immediate symptoms.

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