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Doctor shares ‘worrying thing’ about new Covid variant – and best protection against virus

Dr Sir Frank Atherton voiced his concerns on BBC Radio Wales on Tuesday, September 26.

Dr Atherton said: “We have been watching [Covid BA.2.86] very carefully over recent weeks.

“It is a global phenomenon, and it appears to be a mutation from the Omicron lineage of Covid that caused us some issues last winter.”

While there are no recorded cases of the mutation in Wales as of yet, there have been reports of the Covid variant in England and Scotland.

Dr Atherton added: “The worrying thing is that it may be able to transmit more easily.

Additional eligible groups include:

  • People living in social care
  • Frontline health and social care staff.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) verified that early data suggests that “BA.2.86 is no more likely to evade existing antibodies than XBB.1.5” – another Covid mutation.

This means that the Covid vaccine would still be effective against the BA.2.86 strain.

While the current data is “limited”, there is no evidence to suggest that BA.2.86 is more likely to make people seriously ill than currently circulating strains.

Professor Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor, UKHSA said: “The autumn vaccination programme started this month.”

Prof Hopkins emphasised “how important it is that the most vulnerable among us are fully vaccinated” to be protected against the virus.

She said: “I urge everyone eligible to come forward for their next dose as soon as they are called.”

As of September 18, 137 BA.2.86 cases have been sequenced in 15 countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.



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