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New Covid-19 Variant: Pirola

Context:

An article published in the Yale Medicine Review on August 31 has noted the rise of Covid-19 infections in multiple countries, driven by a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 called BA.2.86, which is informally being termed ‘Pirola’.
Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About SARS-CoV-2
  2. Virus Mutation Process
  3. About Pirola Variant

About SARS-CoV-2

  • SARS-CoV-2 is a member of the coronavirus family.
  • It is the virus responsible for Covid-19 (Corona Virus Disease-2019), which caused the global pandemic.
  • The virus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets.
  • Mutations are frequent as the virus circulates in humans, leading to the emergence of variants with higher transmission efficiency.
Virus Mutation Process
  • When a virus infects cells, its genetic material (RNA or DNA) replicates, and errors during this process trigger mutations. The likelihood of mutation increases when a virus is widespread and causing many infections.
  • Mutations are changes in DNA sequence.
  • Most mutations have little impact on the virus’s ability to cause disease.
  • But changes in specific areas of the genetic material can affect transmission and disease severity.

About Pirola Variant

  • The WHO has recorded 21 global cases of Pirola as of August.
  • The US and UK health agencies have found a few cases but consider the numbers too small to assess its transmission or severity.
  • Despite low case numbers, it’s categorized as a “variant under monitoring” due to its 30+ mutations on the spike protein.
  • Yale Medicine’s infectious diseases specialist is concerned about the high mutation count.
  • The US CDC suggests some degree of transmissibility due to the highly mutated variants found in multiple countries.
Covid-19 Trend in India
  • India has reported a low number of cases, with most being mild.
  • In the previous 24 hours, India had only 18 cases, with Maharashtra having the highest count (over 200 out of 500 active cases).

-Source: Indian Express


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