BRITAIN’S latest Covid variant may be no worse than the last one, according to health chiefs.
Tests by the UK Health Security Agency found no signs ‘Pirola’ is more severe than Omicron or more resistant to immunity from jabs or past infection.
The BA.2.86 strain sparked fears of another crisis because it has so many mutations[/caption]
The BA.2.86 strain, nicknamed ‘Pirola’ by scientists, sparked fears of another crisis because it has so many mutations.
NHS vaccines director, Steve Russell, dubbed it the “most concerning variant since Omicron” as the autumn jabs rollout was brought forward to head it off.
But the UKHSA said on Friday that it has not yet found any reason to be alarmed.
Chief medical adviser, Professor Susan Hopkins, said: “While this is still very early data, it is encouraging to see an indication that BA.2.86 demonstrates similar levels of antibody escape compared to other variants circulating in the UK.
“There is so far no evidence to suggest that it is more likely to make people seriously ill than other Omicron variants in circulation.
“The autumn vaccination programme started this month, and data shows once again how important it is that the most vulnerable among us are fully vaccinated.
“I urge everyone eligible to come forward for their next dose as soon as they are called.”
There have been 54 confirmed cases of BA.2.86 in the UK so far, with 48 in England and six in Scotland.
Most of the infections were detected at an outbreak in one care home in Norfolk.
Ten people have been admitted to hospital with it but nobody is known to have died.
The UKHSA says the variant is spreading in the UK with cases found in “most regions”, and at least 15 other countries have detected it.
Tracking the true spread of the virus is impossible now that public testing has been scrapped.
Lab experts are now testing to see how well the existing vaccines work against the variant, though pharmaceutical firms insist they are still effective.
Source of data and images: thesun