September 24, 2023

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No evidence of Pirola reported in Iran

TEHRAN- There are no reports of Pirola, or BA.2.86, in the country, the deputy health minister said on Saturday, adding that coronavirus tests are being performed at borders.

Medical teams are continuously monitoring and testing travelers entering the country, IRNA quoted Babak Eshrati as saying.

These days, due to the large number of people traveling to Iraq for the Arbaeen pilgrimage, PCR tests are done, he said, adding that no cases of Pirola infection have been reported yet.

“However, we are fully prepared in case of Pirola’s possible outbreak in the country.”

Troubling COVID trends

Pirola descends from the Omicron lineage and is the latest COVID variant- and is a highly mutated strain with over 36 mutations. 

Moreover, some of these mutations are on spike protein, an entry point for viruses to exploit human cells. It can be transmitted through droplets and is airborne. While Eris is less likely to occur but is more immunity-evading.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning signaling ‘troubling Covid trends’ ahead, most likely during winter.

The newfound variant has been held responsible for the sudden surge across different countries- predominantly in the USA, UK, UAE, and Denmark.

“We continue to see concerning trends for Covid-19 ahead of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere. Deaths are increasing in some parts of the Middle East and Asia, intensive care unit admissions are increasing in Europe and hospitalizations are increasing in several regions,” said WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on September 6. Although no single dominant strain has been identified thus far, Pirola and EG.5 are on the rise, he said.

However, according to the pre-existing data, existing vaccines may help in protection against the BA.2.86 strain.

Tedros expressed shock at the low percentage of the vulnerable populace who had recently been inoculated. He urged the remaining to not wait to get a booster dose.

He also noted an increase in hospitalization rates in the USA, UAE, and UK. “The increase in hospitalizations and deaths shows that COVID-19 is here to stay and that we will continue to need tools to fight it,” Tedros said.

While WHO signaled a potential rise in incidences in the future, Tedros emphasized that everyone gets vaccinated and takes the booster as soon as possible. WHO also announced a global knowledge-sharing platform about Covid- C-TAP that had secured three new licensing agreements to transfer vaccine technologies.


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