The Glen Bard

The student news site of Glenbard West High School

The Glen Bard

The Glen Bard

Pirola: The Newest Coronavirus Variant

Art done by Heide Brazier.

A new health scare has emerged: the newest variant of Omicron, nicknamed “Pirola,” is causing newfound concern among medical experts after over a year of lifted restrictions and post-pandemic recovery.

Pirola is causing a sense of urgency, but much about it remains unknown.

Public health concerns are being raised due to the appearance of a new coronavirus variant, BA.2.86. (Pirola), which has over 30 mutations. With previous variants having significantly less mutations, it’s no surprise this massive shift has many medical experts worried about the possibility of new epidemics. 

“Such a high number of mutations is notable,” says Yale Medicine infectious diseases specialist Scott Roberts, M.D. “The other concern is that this strain has been picked up in at least six countries, and the cases are unrelated.” This analysis made by Dr. Roberts demonstrates that there is likely some degree of international transmission that is not being detected. 

The fact these cases don’t have clear links are a big indication that it is circulating more widely than believed, especially now that COVID-19 surveillance has virtually disappeared. According to WebMD, common symptoms of Omicron, the umbrella Pirola falls under, include constant cough, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, and headache. As of Sep. 29, the CDC reports Pirola has been identified in at least 10 states in the U.S. in both people and wastewater. 

Despite the situation’s grim tone, there is not a major need to worry. Due to vaccinations and previous exposure, coronavirus is not as big of a threat as it was back in March of 2020; as the aforementioned factors ended up fostering herd immunity at a considerably high rate. In recent days “boosters” are being brushed off as a thing of the past, however boosters should not be deemed useless or outdated. In fact, the newest booster, deemed the “Monovalent” booster, was released for public administration a little over a month ago, and getting it is encouraged. 

The CDC expects the new booster to be effective at reducing severe disease and hospitalization rates from Pirola, and so its highly recommended to go ahead and get the booster! 

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