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New COVID-19 Variant Increases COVID Threat

You are currently viewing New COVID-19 Variant Increases COVID Threat
An increased number of COVID-19 is expected due to the new variant.
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Recently, a new variant of COVID-19 has arisen, raising concerns for health experts. The variant, BA.2.89 (currently going off the name Pirola), is freshly identified and potentially more transmissible. It is still too early to know much about the variant and to understand just how transmissible it ultimately is, but experts are concerned, nonetheless.

While still new, this variant has had at least 30 mutations detected. This high number of mutations poses a serious risk as that means it is hard to vaccinate against and hard to build immunity for. This is similar to what we saw with one of the previously dominant stains, Omicron. Prior to Omicron was the Delta variant and they differed greatly due to the amount of mutations Omicron had. It made it hard to protect the masses against Omicron with vaccination.

Furthermore, the Pirola variant has already been detected in six countries, all with entirely different origin cases.

The fact that this new variant has been seen in six different countries with fully unrelated cases has also greatly raised medical professionals’ concerns. This suggests that there is a potential rate of transmission that happens within communities, that is likely high, that has not yet been able to be identified. This scares them given it is already happening on a large international scale.

While most things are still just being hypothesized regarding Pirola, there are some things we know for certain. This variant is a variant starting off of the Omicron variant. The first detection of this variant was a case in Denmark at the end of July. Cases were then popping up in the United States in August. All reported cases thus far are unconnected. Experts have been able to put together that this means the variant is more widespread than we know it to be, just with unreported cases.

Currently marketed medications meant to treat COVID-19, such as Paxlovid, have been shown to remain effective against Pirola.

Because the variant is still quite new, the unknown aspects of it are quite scary and concerning. The number of mutations worries experts that our current COVID-19 defenses will be ineffective. With this said, because we have been able to establish herd immunity through widespread vaccinations and infection, the unknown, scary aspects of the variant are not raising the same sorts of concerns that came when COVID-19 was first spreading around the world.

The good news as well is that a new booster is coming sometime in the next month. While it was developed prior to the Pirola variant, it will likely be a great help in managing the virus.

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