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US CDC says existing antibodies can work against new Covid-19 variant

WASHINGTON – Early research data has shown that antibodies produced by prior infection or existing vaccines against the coronavirus were sufficient to protect against the new BA.2.86 variant, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday.

The Food and Drug Administration in the coming days is expected to authorise the updated vaccines that target the XBB.1.5 subvariant of Omicron, and early data provides encouraging signs for the new shots, CDC said.

The public health agency added that the new BA.2.86 lineage of coronavirus was not driving the current increases in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations in the United States, but rather attributed it to other predominantly circulating viruses.

Since CDC’s initial risk assessment last month, BA.2.86 has been identified in nine US states as of Friday. The Omicron offshoot has also been identified from both human and wastewater specimens in countries including Japan, UK and Canada.

This is in contrast to CDC’s comments in August that the new variant may be more capable than older variants in causing infection in people who have previously had Covid-19 or who have received vaccines. REUTERS

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