Los Angeles,
09:00 AM

LAist: What You Need to Know About the New Highly Mutated BA.2.86 COVID Variant

LAist program AirTalk recently interviewed Kimberly Shriner, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at Huntington Health, an affiliate of Cedars-Sinai, about the recently detected COVID-19 variant BA.2.86 and the updated vaccine that targets the more commonly circulating Omicron subvariant XBB.1.6.

Health experts are keeping a close eye on the highly mutated BA.2.86 strain, which has been detected in Israel, Europe, Canada, South Africa and the U.S. 

Shriner told AirTalk host Larry Mantle that although the severity of the newest variant is still unknown, Los Angeles County and Huntington Health are seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

“We are at a low point for general antibody levels from vaccination because many people have not had a booster for over a year as we await the new XBB booster,” she said.

Since the broadcast aired, the new vaccine was granted full approval for people age 12 and older and emergency use authorization for children 6 months through 11 years old.

Shriner told Mantle that if BA.2.86 becomes prevalent, healthcare institutions are prepared with more experience and tools to treat severely ill patients who need hospitalization.

“Of course, preventing hospitalizations from good masking and thinking about your social activities a little bit when we’re in the middle of a surge is very important,” she said.

She added that people should get the new COVID-19 booster.

“I would strongly encourage people … to go ahead and get vaccinated to protect them, especially as we’re beginning to head into the winter when we could have a more brisk season,” she told Mantle.

Click here to listen to the entire segment on LAist.