Description og the first cases of SARS-CoV-2 variant BA.2.86 from Denmark published
BA.2.86 is a new variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that emerged recently at global level. When a new variant of a pandemic pathogen emerges, quick initial assessment and sharing of information are of high importance. Statens Serum Institut has in collaboration with regional departments of clinical microbiology published a scientific Rapid Communication article describing the first ten cases that were detected in Denmark.
BA.2.86 is a new variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that emerged recently at global level. When a new variant of a pandemic pathogen emerges, quick initial assessment and sharing of information are of high importance.
BA.2.86 has many spike gene mutations and was classified as a variant under monitoring by the World Health Organization on 17 August 2023.
The article describes the first 10 human infections with BA.2.86 that were detected in Denmark between 26 July and 21 August 2023. The infection has also been detected in several other countries, including Israel, South Africa, UK and USA.
”It is not every day that we observe variant so distinct from the other circulating variants, and that is why it catches our attention. Due to the effective Danish genomic surveillance system and the collaboration with regional hospitals, we have the opportunity to address many of the pressing questions of not only of national but also of international importance that a new variant like this one raises.”
The first cases of infection with the new variant BA.2.86 did not stand out from previous COVID-19 cases seen in 2023. All cases had received the recommended baseline vaccinations against COVID-19, and some had received the updated vaccine as their fourth vaccination. Half the cases had had COVID-19 previously. The symptoms were similar to those seen with other variants, however the current data are insufficient to conclude generally about the ability of BA.2.86 to cause severe disease.
Denmark retains active genomic surveillance for emerging variants. The work showcases the usefulness of complementary surveillance systems. Wastewater surveillance allowed the team to assess the general level of circulation and spread across the country, and a surveillance project at workplaces contributed with samples from individuals with mild symptoms.
Read the article in Eurosurveillance.”The quick gathering of relevant data was possible thanks to excellent multidisciplinary collaboration across departments at Statens Serum Institut and regional departments of clinical microbiology.”