The appearance of new COVID variants has led to a spike in cases and hospitalizations. Learn everything you need to know about these variants and what you can do to prevent risking exposure.
Which Variant Caused This Current Spike?
Of the current COVID variants, the most prominent is the “Pirola” strain, otherwise known as the BA.2.86 variant. Per Al Jazeera, this highly mutated version of Omicron has been the major culprit behind the aforementioned surges. The Pirola variant possesses 30 different mutations, which is considerably higher than the strains that came before it. For reference, the Omicron and Eris variants had one to two mutations.
First appearing in Denmark on July 24 of this year, it recently spread throughout North America. The good news is that the risk of catastrophe is considerably lower. Scientists predict that the built-up immunities from vaccination and prior COVID-19 exposure will suffice in most cases. In addition, prior methods for detection and treatment seem to be compatible with the new variant.
Are There Other Variants to Watch Out For?
EG.5 is another notable Omicron variant. Most interestingly, it has been able to bypass prior COVID antibodies. At the moment, the World Health Organization has marked it as a low priority, but it is monitoring its progress closely.
What Can Be Done to Mitigate Risk?
Right now, the situation with these COVID variants is fluid. It is still unknown how transmittable they are, whether or not they respond to boosters, and what the long-term outlook is. Both mentioned strands are currently low risk, but the situation could develop at any second. For now, the best way to mitigate risk is the same as it has always been. Wearing masks wherever you go, staying updated with vaccinations, and limiting needless outside exposure are the best ways to avoid the COVID strains, if you cannot afford an infection.