SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The new COVID-19 variant BA 2.86, also known as Pirola, is raising concerns in some parts of the United States as Covid cases slowly rise.

Not too long ago, the COVID-19 variant Eris began spreading across the U.S. and now the Pirola variant is also running its course. Dr. Armando Paez from Baystate Health says even though there is this new variant, Eris is still the most dominant strain but there are still concerns of Pirola as it has several mutations.

“It has many mutations that makes it a different variant compared to what is predominantly circulating now,” said Dr. Paez.

According to the CDC, Pirola was detected in samples from people in Denmark, Israel and the United States. While there is currently no evidence that this variant is causing more severe illness, Patrick Leonardo from AMR says it’s still important for people to take safety precautions, especially as we head into the colder months.

“We are going to be fighting the cold, the flu, obviously new variants of Covid and any other respiratory illness that comes in. So the best practice is what we have learned over the past three years, washing hands masking up,” said Leonardo.

Health experts say people should stay home if they feel sick, go to primary care doctors for PCR testing or get an at-home test online or at your local pharmacy.

The CDC is still evaluating the effectiveness of the updated vaccine which they say will be effective at reducing severe disease and hospitalization. This updated COVID-19 vaccine should be available towards the end of the month.

Local News

Kiara Smith is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since March 2023. Follow Kiara on X @KiaraBSmith1 and view her bio to see more of her work.