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Picture Courtesy: www.the-express.co
Context: The world is facing another wave of COVID-19 infections as a new variant, called "Pirola" or BA.2.86, spreads rapidly across the globe. The variant is a descendant of the Omicron strain, which emerged in 2021 and caused a devastating surge in cases and deaths
- Pirola has acquired several mutations that make it more transmissible and potentially more resistant to vaccines and treatments. The New York Times reports that health experts are concerned about the impact of this variant on the already strained health systems and the effectiveness of the current vaccination campaigns.
- Viruses, especially those with RNA as their genetic material, like coronaviruses, tend to mutate over time. Mutations occur during the copying of the virus's genetic material, and some of these mutations can be advantageous for the virus, making it more transmissible or better at entering human cells.
- The Pirola variant has more than 30 mutations in its spike protein compared to the XBB.1.5 variant of Omicron. This high number of mutations is a point of concern because it's similar to the level of mutations seen when transitioning from the Delta variant to the Omicron variant.
- The Pirola variant has been detected in several countries, including the US, the UK, and others. The fact that these cases are unrelated suggests some degree of international transmission, which is concerning.
- The concern with such mutations is that they could potentially make the virus more transmissible or resistant to immunity gained from previous infections or vaccinations.
- It's currently unclear whether Pirola could lead to more severe disease, hospitalization, or death.
COVID variant BA.2.86: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/covid-variant-ba286
ICMR study on long Covid: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/icmr-study-on-long-covid
Q. The term “Pirola” is frequently seen in the news, It is related to:
A) Missile defence system developed by Israel
B) Malware attacked on the AIIMS Server
C) New variant of Covid-19
D) Ancient animal fossils discovered in Brazil
Explanation: A new subvariant of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, called BA.2.86 or Pirola, has been identified in multiple countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and India. The WHO has classified BA.2.86 as a variant under monitoring. The spike protein of the Pirola variant has over 30 mutations, which is the protein that the virus utilizes to bind to human cells. This indicates that the Pirola variant could be more contagious or evade vaccines more than other Omicron subvariants.