Covid: What is the new BA.2.86 variant known as ‘Pirola’?

A new Covid variant called “Pirola” is spreading in the United States and is currently being closely monitored by the World Health Organization.

“Pirola,” a combination of the Greek letters pi and rho, has more than 30 mutations in its spike protein compared to XBB.1.5, a variant of Omicron that was the dominant strain in the U.S., according to Thursday’s bulletin at Yale. Medicine.

“This high number of mutations is remarkable,” said Scott Roberts, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Yale Medicine.

Dr Roberts said this was similar to the number of mutations that differed between Delta, one of the early strains of the coronavirus, and Omicron.

“When Omicron arrived in the winter of 2021, there was a huge increase in COVID-19 cases because it was so different from the Delta variant, and it escaped immunity from both natural infection and vaccination,” Dr. Roberts said.

“The second concern is that this strain has been found in at least six countries, and the cases are unrelated. This suggests some degree of transmission [international] “That’s the community we’re not tracking.”

What is BA.2.86?

Maria Van Kerkhove, epidemiologist and head of the Covid response at WHO, said there is very limited information available on the newly discovered strain. But the large number of mutations within it requires close monitoring, he wrote on Twitter.

“Surveillance, Sequencing and Reporting of COVID-19 [are] It is important to track known and detect new variants,” she said.

The variant, also known as BA.X, was found through genetic sequencing – a process where scientists determine the building blocks of a molecule’s DNA.

Scientists are cautious because of the variant’s extreme number of mutations, more than 30 in the spike protein – the part of the virus that vaccines seek to neutralize.

How many cases are there in the US?

Pirola has been found in 10 states, According to GISAID dataA global database.

So far, it has been found in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

The CDC said in a statement released Aug. 23 that current hospitalizations in the country are “unlikely” to be driven by BA.2.86, but added, “This assessment may change as additional data become available.”

Globally, this variant has been found in Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Israel, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Independent previously reported.

Covid hospitalizations and deaths have risen steadily over the past several weeks as the US experiences the effects of a summer surge.

From September 3 to September 9, the number of people hospitalized due to the virus increased 7.7 percent compared to the previous week, the most recent data From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show.

During the same time, deaths increased by 4.5 percent.

As the heat wave is on the rise, experts have started speaking more about preventive measures. In a recent interview with CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he expects Americans to wear masks to protect their loved ones if cases continue to rise.

What can you do to protect yourself?

The CDC has advised people to protect themselves from the virus because it is not yet clear “how well this variant spreads,” though people are asked to do the following as a precautionary measure:

• Get your COVID-19 vaccination.

• Get tested for Covid.

• Get treatment if you have COVID-19 and are at risk of getting very sick

• If you choose to wear a mask, wear a high-quality mask that fits snugly over your nose and mouth. Improve ventilation.

•Wash your hands.

what are the symptoms?

Symptoms of the new variant include runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing and sore throat.

What are the experts saying?

Christian G. Andersen, an immunologist and infectious disease expert, said the lineage had all the hallmarks of something that could spread, but added: “Our immune landscape is complex now, so it’s too early to say whether that will happen.”

Dr. S., medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist, a leading Texan hospital. Wesley Long said it remains to be seen whether BA.2.86 will be able to compete with other strains of the virus or have any advantage in evading immune responses. From prior infection or vaccination.

Researchers are currently studying how much protection – if any – immunity from previous COVID infections may provide against BA.2.86. the new York Times, However, research on this topic is still in its infancy, so it is difficult to say for sure how past infections may affect pirola cases.

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