A new COVID-19 variant has been discovered in Israel after two travelers came back infected, the country’s Health Ministry said Wednesday.

Details: The Health Ministry said the two COVID-19 patients had “a previously unidentified COVID variant” that appears to be a combination of the BA.1 (omicron) and infectious BA.2 (stealth omicron) variants, per Haaretz.

Symptoms: The two patients had mild COVID-19 symptoms, including “fever, headaches and muscle aches,” the Health Ministry said.

  • The two patients did not require specialized care after infection.
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Worth noting: Israel’s COVID czar, professor Salman Zarka, said that two variants can mutate together when they’re found in the same cell. These variants “when they multiply, they exchange genetic material, creating a new virus,” he said.

Meanwhile: The emergence of a new COVID-19 variant that combines BA.1 and BA.2 isn’t isolated to Israel. Thailand said it’s seen a similar virus in recent days, which has been called the “BA.2.2” variant.

The bigger picture: Experts continue to monitor COVID-19 cases across the world. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” over the weekend that a new COVID-19 variant will emerge soon.

  • “Variants are coming and omicron was the first one,” he said.
  • “So what we are trying to do, and we’re working very diligently right now, it is to make not only a vaccine that will protect against all variants, including omicron, but also something that can protect for at least a year.”