Everything we know about Perola, the new coronavirus variant

Perola is being tracked as the most mutated version of the coronavirus since Omicron, but so far it is not a type of concern.

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A new variant of the coronavirus discovered in Canada and a few other countries is being watched closely by health officials because it is the most mutated version of the coronavirus since the troubling Omicron variant emerged in 2021. This new variant of Pyrola this summer in Denmark, British Columbia reported its first Canadian case on Tuesday, a single person who has not recently traveled abroad and is recovering at home, rather than in a hospital. Joseph Breen of the National Post reviews the latest news on this mutant strain and whether it’s a cause for concern.

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How did this happen?

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Viruses mutate all the time, effectively every time they replicate within a host cell, and sometimes these mutations confer a survival advantage, meaning the mutated variant replaces what came before. In the British Medical JournalThe most plausible origin for this new variant known as Pyrola is that a person with a weakened immune system was infected with the Omicron variant for a long time, said François Balloux, professor of computational systems biology and director of the Institute of Genetics at University College London. More than a year, and during that period mutations appeared within one person, then this new mutated virus spread again in society. This mutated version, Paloux said, “has since been circulating in an area of ​​the world with poor viral control, and has now been frequently exported to other places in the world.”

What is the concern?

The concern is that this variant may be more efficient at evading the immune responses of people who have antibodies to the coronavirus, either through previous infection, vaccination, or both. This does not mean that these people are more likely to get sick. It can, of course, also infect people who have not been vaccinated and have not been infected previously, and therefore do not have a specific immune response to the Corona virus at all.

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Why would it be worse?

The reason for this has to do with the unusually high number of mutations in the spike proteins of the mutated virus, more than 30 compared to other common variants, even more than was discovered in 2021 on what remains the dominant Omicron variant globally. It is these spike proteins that enable the virus to penetrate cells, an essential step in its replication and the onset of disease. So, if any of these mutations convey a powerful new feature of the mutated virus, it could lead to more cases, worse disease, or both. The coronavirus is still circulating in Canada, where epidemiological data, such as hospitalizations and outbreak reports, indicate a recent uptick in cases from a very low baseline. Health Canada reported on August 29 that 30 people have died last week.

Is Perola worse than what thousands of Canadians are already suffering from?

So far it does not seem so. Other important factors include the new strain’s transmissibility and vigor, and there’s still no evidence that Pyrola is particularly bad either way. British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement that the strain does not appear to cause particularly severe disease. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention View a similar comment. “Based on what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now knows, it appears that the current tests used to detect COVID-19 and the drugs used to treat it are effective with this variant,” she said. “At the moment, we don’t know how widespread this variant is, but we do know that it spreads in the same way as other variants.”

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Pirola looks less intimidating than previous aliases, like Kraken. Are they running out of legendary monsters?

The new Birula variant is known to scientists as BA.2.86. Under the Pangu nomenclature system, which was devised in the early days of the pandemic based on previous tracing of the evolution of influenza, this means it is the 86th generation of the second subtype of BA. So Alias ​​is apt to help people keep track of what’s on their mind. The practice began in a chat group of epidemiologists tracing the genetic evolution of the coronavirus. At first it was the centaurs, then the Sphinx, the Minotaur, Cerberus and others. The common factor was that the names were taken from astrology or mythology, and often both. The statement from provincial health officials said the Kraken strain, which is XBB1.5, is the most common strain in British Columbia. For example, Arcturus recently popped up in the US, and Pirola shares its name with a minor planet, an asteroid about 40 kilometers across called 1082 Pirola, which is also named after Pyrola, a mint-flavored subarctic plant known as Wintergreen. The Greek letter convention is used for what the World Health Organization calls variants of concern, which is a broader and more dangerous designation. Currently, the dominant variant of anxiety worldwide is Omicron, of which Pirola and others are considered subspecies. Any future variant sufficiently different from the Omicron will be called Pi.

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