Dr Hilary discusses possible Covid wave
The Covid variant BA.2.86, dubbed Pirola, is the latest Omicron strain to appear this summer, sparking concern among many experts because of its large number of mutations.
The new strain carries 30 more mutations in the spike protein compared to the previous dominant variant, which could make it more likely to evade previous immunity or be more transmissible.
This week, the UK Health Security Agency has advised not to jump to any conclusions before more data is available on the Omicron spin-off.
“It is important to note that to date only a small number of cases have been identified across the world, and we will need more data to draw any conclusions about the effect of these mutations on transmissibility and severity of the variant,” it said.
Express.co.uk spoke to Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire, about the warning signs of Pirola.
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The professor said: “Due to the significant number of spike protein mutations, there’s a possibility that symptoms might be more severe than those of previous variants.
“This is particularly the case for individuals with compromised immunity, though definitive data on this is still pending.”
Dr Papadopoulos recommended looking out for the following BA.2.86 symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Blocked nose
- Cough (with or without phlegm)
- Muscle aches
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How to differentiate symptoms of Pirola from a cold?
Many of Pirola’s symptoms resemble other respiratory infections so the professor recommended looking for a combination of the signs described above.
Dr Papadopoulos said: “A combination of these symptoms, especially in areas known to have a rise in cases, [could hold clues].
“If you think you may have come into contact with someone with Covid, [this] might [also] suggest a higher likelihood of a Pirola infection.
“However, the most accurate way to confirm an infection with the Pirola variant or any other strain of Covid is through testing.”
Covid cases are on the rise
Pirola has only caused 34 confirmed cases in England so far, including a localised outbreak in a Norfolk care home.
However, overall Covid cases have surged by 29 percent in England, compared to last week.
The latest government data suggests there were a total of 11,668 cases in England, 328 in Wales, and 1,615 in Scotland in the seven days leading up to September 8.
The latest Government data logged on September 3 showed that the majority of the cases in England were caused by the Eris variant, also known as EG.5.1.
You can read about the tell-tale signs of Eris here.
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