The World Health Organization and US health authorities are closely monitoring a new variant of COVID-19 which has been detected in Israel, Denmark and the United States, i24NEWS reports.

The WHO classified the new variant, BA.2.86, as being under surveillance "due to the large number (more than 30) of spike gene mutations it carries".

"The potential impact of the BA.2.86 mutations are presently unknown and undergoing careful assessment," the WHO said.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed it is also closely monitoring the variant.

"As we learn more about BA.2.86, CDC's advice on protecting yourself from COVID-19 remains the same," the agency said, as quoted by Reuters.

The new lineage, which has 36 mutations from the currently-dominant XBB.1.5 COVID variant "harkens back to an earlier branch" of the virus, explained Dr. S. Wesley Long, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist.

He said it remains to be seen whether BA.2.86 will be able to out-compete other strains of the virus or have any advantage in escaping immune responses from prior infection or vaccination.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)