I’ve pointed out a few signs now of increasing virulence for the BA.2.86 variant, which will probably become dominant a few months from now. The nursing home cluster had increased severity, the variant is much better at infecting endothelial lower lung cells than other Omicron variants and it has important mutations first seen in Delta.
But the most notable sign of increasing virulence has to be the cases we see getting reported, of young people in the hospital who are infected by this variant. Over the past two days we’ve seen an 87 year old man, a 44 year old woman, a 21 year old woman and a 33 year old woman. We’re also noticing that a high share of the reported cases come from hospitalized people.
These are all different puzzle pieces that point in the same direction. And you can argue over each individual piece of evidence, you can argue they’re biased in their sequencing, the Delta mutation in the Furin cleavage site is irrelevant, the Calu3 cell results are statistical noise, etcetera. Or you can accept that the animal that quacks like a duck, walks like a duck and looks like a duck is in fact a duck.