The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a preliminary risk assessment on the COVID-19 variant labeled BA.2.86, which was first detected in Denmark and Israel.
The CDC said at least two cases from the new variant have been identified in the U.S.
The CDC said the "large number of mutations in this variant raises concerns of greater escape from existing immunity from vaccines and previous infections compared with other recent variants."
In its initial assessment, the CDC said its too soon to know if the variant is more or less capable of making people severely ill. It is also unclear whether the variant is more or less transmissible.
The CDC said that based on what it knows about the variant, existing COVID-19 tests and medications seem to be effective against it. The CDC also believes the new COVID-19 shot, which will be rolled out to the U.S. next month, "will be effective at reducing severe disease and hospitalization."
The CDC said that nearly the entire U.S. population has some immunity to COVID-19, either through vaccines, infections or both. The CDC said it is likely that those antibodies will at least provide some level of protection against this new variant.
The new variant comes as there has been an uptick in COVID-19-related hospitalizations throughout the U.S. The CDC reportedthat hospitalizations associated with the virus increased 21.6% in the week ending Aug. 12, as compared to the prior week.
Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax plan to release updated vaccines this fall, potentially making them accessible for most ages.
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