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State watching emerging COVID variant through wastewater data

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

New York state health officials are on heightened alert following the detection of a new and highly divergent strain of COVID-19, labeled BA.2.86, in various parts of the U.S. and abroad.


Though not currently identified in New York, this strain is notably distinct from previous omicron variants, raising concerns among virologists about its potential to bypass existing immunity.

To bolster early detection, the state’s Wadsworth Center is working with Syracuse University, utilizing wastewater sample analyses to track the variant’s presence and spread.

This collaboration aims to enhance the state’s surveillance, ensuring a proactive response to any potential outbreaks.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The vigilant monitoring for BA.2.86 comes amidst a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and detectable virus levels in New York’s wastewater.

The state’s response focuses on gauging the severity of COVID-19 waves through hospitalization and fatality rates.

Meanwhile, as various omicron descendent strains circulate, pharmaceutical companies gear up for a fall release of vaccines targeting the latest lineages.

The efficacy of imminent Pfizer and Moderna boosters against these new variants remains uncertain, though recent studies suggest effective neutralization against certain strains.