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US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that it was tracking a new lineage of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The lineage is named BA.2.86, and has been detected in the United States, Denmark and Israel, the CDC said in a post on messaging platform X.

“As we learn more about BA.2.86, CDC’s advice on protecting yourself from COVID-19 remains the same,” the agency said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier on Thursday said in a post on X that it had classified BA.2.86 as a “variant under monitoring” due to the large number of mutations it carries.

The WHO said that, so far, only a few sequences of the variant have been reported from a handful of countries.

Early analysis indicates that the new variant “will have equal or greater escape than XXB.1.5 from antibodies elicited by pre-Omicron and first-generation Omicron variants,” Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutch Cancer Center said in a slide deck published on Thursday.

The Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 is the strain targeted by vaccines in current COVID booster shots.

Bloom’s slides note that the most likely scenario is that BA.2.86 is less transmissible than current dominant variants, so never spreads widely, but more sequencing data is needed.

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