According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 10 new COVID-19 cases in the United States are being caused by the BA.2.86 variant, The news estimates, released Monday, show BA.2.86 nearly tripled what the agency had estimated/

This variant is said to be a “highly mutated” one. 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, according to a report by CBS News. 

“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. “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 added.

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. The WHO is also currently investigating mysterious pneumonia cases in Chinese children.

WHO Investigates Mysterious Pneumonia Cases In Children In China

The CDC did say that it did not disagree with the WHO’s assessment that BA.2.86 likely posed a “low” public health risk, adding that for now the strain “BA.2.86 does not appear to be driving increases in infections or hospitalizations in the United States.”

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Scientists in recent weeks have been studying a steep increase in a BA.2.86 descendant called JN.1, which quickly rose to become the fastest-growing subvariant worldwide.

Many cases have been reported in Europe, which has seen increasing cases from BA.2.86 and its descendants.

Authorities in France said on Nov. 13 that JN.1 was largely driving that country’s increase in BA.2.86 infections, climbing to 10% of sequences in the country. Early investigations of JN.1 had not turned up any worrying signals so far compared to other BA.2.86 infections, they said, though more in-depth analyses were underway. –CBS News.

“Currently, JN.1 is the most common version of BA.2.86 in the U.S. CDC projects BA.2.86 and its offshoots like JN.1 will continue to increase as a proportion of SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences,” CDC spokesperson Jasmine Reed told CBS News in an email.

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