Pirola Covid Variant: Symptoms and Concerns

The emergence of the Pirola Covid variant, also known as BA.2.86, has raised alarms worldwide due to its increased mutation count, potentially impacting vaccine efficacy. This article delves into the symptoms and global concerns surrounding this new Omicron strain.


The appearance of a highly mutated Covid variant, known as Pirola or BA.2.86, has triggered a surge in cases in the United Kingdom, prompting the government to accelerate autumn vaccination efforts. Pirola, a subvariant of Omicron, has garnered attention from experts due to its 34 additional mutations, raising concerns about its potential to evade immunity provided by vaccines. As of September 10, the UK has reported 100,516 new Covid cases, as per data from The Zoe Health Study. This article aims to provide insights into the Pirola variant’s symptoms and its global spread.

Global Presence

Pirola has been identified in 15 countries across the globe, as reported by the Covid variant tracker GISAID. These countries include Denmark, France, the USA, Sweden, Thailand, Israel, Spain, Canada, Portugal, Australia, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and, notably, the United Kingdom.

In England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed 34 cases of Pirola as of September 4. While five individuals required hospitalization, no fatalities have been reported. Among the 34 cases, 28 were linked to a single outbreak at a care home in Norfolk, with the remaining six cases scattered across the east of England, London, and northwest England. Scotland has also reported two cases of Pirola, according to Public Health Scotland.

Symptoms of Pirola

Pirola, being a variant of Omicron, exhibits symptoms consistent with this lineage. According to the ZOE Health Study, the five most common symptoms of Omicron infection are:

  1. Runny nose
  2. Headache
  3. Fatigue (mild or severe)
  4. Sneezing
  5. Sore throat

Additionally, three more symptoms have been frequently reported, as per the New Scientist: diarrhea, eye irritation, and rashes.

Expert Opinion

Dr. Renu Bindra, incident director at UKHSA, emphasized that while BA.2.86 possesses a substantial number of mutations in the viral genome compared to other circulating Covid-19 variants, the available data is insufficient to draw definitive conclusions about its impact on transmissibility, severity, or vaccine escape properties. Dr. Bindra also highlighted the presence of widespread community transmission both in the UK and globally.

In response to the emerging threat, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced the acceleration of the autumn vaccine program to September 11 as a precautionary measure. Eligible individuals are strongly urged to promptly receive their autumn vaccine when offered.

Stay informed as health authorities closely monitor the Pirola variant’s developments and take necessary precautions to combat its spread.

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