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Pirola: The BA.2.86 Coronavirus Variant

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The COVID-19-causing Pirola virus is the Omicron version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Read further to know more.

Written by

Dr. Kinjal Shah

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At September 20, 2023
Reviewed AtDecember 29, 2023


In light of an increase in incidence in the United States and several regions of Europe, new coronavirus types have sparked worry around the world. The increase in cases was brought on by the recently identified, highly mutating Omicron variation known as BA.2.86 (nicknamed "Pirola"). The spike protein of BA.2.86 has more than thirty mutations, which is noteworthy. The subvariant, which was discovered for the first time in a sample dated July 24, 2023, is alarming since it underwent an evolutionary change at the same time as the more infectious but normally less virulent Omicron lineage. The World Health Organization identified BA.2.86 as a variation being monitored since August 17, 2023.

What Is Pirola?

A new BA.2.86 variation with the moniker Pirola was just designated. A significant increase in cases has been seen globally, particularly in some regions of Europe and the United States, as a result of the discovery that Pirola is a highly mutating variety of Omicron with more than 30 mutations. The large frequency of mutations in Pirola, according to Scott Roberts, a specialist in infectious diseases at Yale Medicine, is regarded as "notable." Both Pirola and Eris originated from the XBB lineage, which was derived from the Omicron strain. Health professionals throughout the world are on high alert for these two strains, Pirola and Eris. The World Health Organization (WHO) closely monitors their actions.

What Causes Pirola?

A subvariant of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 (Pirola) results from genetic alterations in the virus. Numerous factors, such as the following, can cause mutations:

  • Errors in Viral Replication: A virus reproduces by making copies of its genetic material. This technique occasionally has flaws that can lead to mutations.

  • Environmental Influences: The virus can also change as a result of external stimuli, including exposure to radiation or chemicals.

  • Pressure on the Immune System: When a person is exposed to the virus, their immune system creates antibodies that can identify and combat the infection. In order to avoid being detected by these antibodies, the virus might evolve, which can result in the creation of new strains.

What Are the Symptoms of Pirola?

As of right now, several COVID-19 variations and the Pirola virus' symptoms are fairly similar. It is still too early to comment, according to experts. Some of the symptoms of Pirola include:

  1. Extreme cough.

  2. Cold.

  3. Fever.

  4. Exhaustion (Fatigue).

  5. Abdominal pain.

  6. Body aches.

  7. Headaches.

  8. Rashes.

  9. Conjunctivitis.

  10. Diarrhea

  11. Self limiting breathlessness.

  12. Taste alterations.

The Stand Out Symptoms- Severe fatigue, weakness, whooping cough, long sleep hours in children and sometimes vertigo.

How Are the Transmission and Infectivity of Pirola?

  • Transmission Method: When an infected individual coughs, sneezes, speaks, or breathes loudly, the Pirola variety spreads through respiratory droplets. The virus can also be spread by contacting infected surfaces and then touching the face.

  • Infectivity Rate and Transmissibility: Although further studies are required to pinpoint the Pirola variant's precise infectivity rate and transmissibility, preliminary data shows that it spreads similarly to other SARS-CoV-2 variations. It does suggest a higher degree of transmissibility, given that it has been discovered on several continents.

What Is the Effectiveness of Vaccines Against Pirola?

To evaluate the effectiveness of the existing vaccinations and guide public health initiatives, it is crucial to understand how they function against the Pirola variety.

  • Protection Against the Pirola Variant by Current Vaccines: Research and studies are being conducted to assess how well the current Pirola variant vaccines work. According to preliminary research, the existing COVID vaccinations may offer some protection against this new COVID type, especially when it comes to avoiding serious illness and hospitalization.

  • New Information on the COVID Vaccine’s Efficacy: According to the present analysis, the updated COVID-19 vaccine, scheduled for availability in mid-September 2023, should be successful in lowering hospitalization rates and disease severity.

How to Prevent Pirola?

The greatest defense against Pirola is to keep the COVID-19 shots and boosters current. Even against brand-new variations like Pirola, vaccinations are still quite successful at preventing COVID-19-related major diseases, hospitalization, and death.

Additional defenses against Pirola include:

  • Putting on a mask in public places.

  • Social estrangement.

  • Preventing intimate touch with ill persons.

  • Often washing hands.

Here are some other recommendations for avoiding Pirola:

  • When indoors, stay away from congested areas.

  • Ventilate indoor areas by opening windows and doors.

  • Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected.

  • Stay at home if sick.

It is essential to remember that no preventative strategy is completely successful. However, by following the above instructions, one can lessen the chance of contracting the Pirola virus.

What Is the Treatment and Management of Pirola?

As there is no particular therapy for Pirola, treatment is supportive and focused on the patient's symptoms. Rest and over-the-counter drugs to reduce fever and other symptoms are the most common forms of therapy for most patients. Patients could require hospitalization if they have serious symptoms, such as shortness of breath.

  • Antiviral Drugs: To treat Pirola, doctors occasionally recommend antiviral drugs like Paxlovid or Molnupiravir. These drugs may lessen the illness's intensity and cut the time that symptoms last. They do not, however, always work against every SARS-CoV-2 type.

  • In-Home Management: Home management advice for Pirola is provided here:

  1. Get lots of sleep.

  2. Drink plenty of liquids, such as water, juice, or broth, to stay hydrated.

  3. Use over-the-counter drugs to treat the symptoms, including fever.

  4. Keep an eye on the symptoms and get medical help for symptoms such as chest discomfort or breathing difficulties.

  5. To stop the infection from spreading, stay isolated.

  • Monoclonal Antibody Therapy: A person may be qualified for monoclonal antibody therapy if they are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19, such as if they are older than 65 years or have an underlying medical condition. Laboratory-produced monoclonal antibodies are proteins that can improve the immune system's response to the virus. A doctor must be consulted if a person is considering monoclonal antibody therapy. They are able to evaluate the risk factors and decide to qualify for treatment.


It is significant to remember that research on Pirola's management and therapy is continuing. New therapies and management techniques could be developed as scientists get more knowledge about this variation. Even though there are currently no indications that any of these newly emerging variants cause more severe illness or that a sudden and dramatic new wave of infections similar to the one everyone saw when Omicron first appeared in late 2021 is about to occur, their appearance serves as a reminder that SARS-CoV-2 is still circulating and evolving. This highlights the significance of continued surveillance, sequencing, and reporting of infections, as well as accepting the offer of COVID-19 vaccinations, particularly for high-risk populations.

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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)


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