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It has 30 mutations and is even more contagious: what do doctors say about the new coronavirus “pirola” and should you be afraid of it?

The incidence of Covid in most regions of Russia increased further last week.

The incidence of Covid in most regions of Russia increased further last week.

Photo: Svetlana MAKOVEEVA

The incidence of Covid in most regions of Russia increased further last week. More and more Russians are becoming infected with coronavirus, getting sick and ending up in hospitals. Despite the fact that the vast majority of us have already dealt with coronavirus – either through illness or vaccination.

By messages Rospotrebnadzor, new variant of coronavirus BA.2.86, called “pyrola,” which is now making a new wave, has developed a number of additional mutations compared to the previously identified “omicron” variants. At this point, it is the most contagious of all previous variants of the virus. However, the first results of laboratory studies from China and Sweden suggest that pyrola likely remains within the omicron lineage and does not separate into a separate new evolutionary branch of the coronavirus. This is indirectly supported by the fact that vaccines created under “omicron” They also work for “pirola” – this is what Rospotrebnadzor said. What to expect from “pirola” in the near future and how to protect yourself from it, Nikolai Kryuchkov, immunologist, candidate of medical sciences, general director of a contract research company, told Komsomolskaya Pravda.

The peculiarity of “pyrola” is that it has gone far from its “ancestor”; more than 30 mutations have developed in it, including within the S-protein.

– That’s a lot. Before “Pyrola,” the changes amounted to one or two to four options, up to 10 in any case when “Kraken” and “Cerberus” appeared. And here there are more than 30 replacements at once,” says Nikolai Kryuchkov. “And the more mutations occur, the less recognizable the virus variant becomes to the immune system. This means that it becomes easier for infections to infect us and spread.

In this situation, antibody titer in those who have been ill or vaccinated must be very high so as not to let the “pie” enter the body. That is, immunity after an illness or vaccination should be “fresh”. Antibodies after vaccination are different and are aimed at protecting against a wide range of antigenic sites of the virus, although in the case of Pyrol, a smaller part of this spectrum continues to work against the virus.

“Apparently, the “pie” will succeed in evading the previously formed specific immunity,” says Nikolai Kryuchkov. – But according to the data on pathogenicity (the ability to cause serious illnesses) and mortality (the number of deaths from the number of cases), fortunately, there is no reason yet to separate “pyrola” into a separate line. However, the changes in the virus are really serious and atypical for the omicron line. “Pirola” is such an option “on the verge” of recognizing him as the ancestor of a new line.

Disease outbreak, caused by “pyrola” will be, our expert believes. Moreover, if “pyrole” manages to take a dominant position among other subvariants of “omicron”, then the outbreak could be large-scale.

The increase in the incidence of Covid is also due to the seasonality factor and the decrease in collective immunity to coronavirus.

– It is difficult to say whether the outbreak will be equal in scale to the previous “Omicron” outbreaks or not. So far I see that it should be less,” says Nikolai Kryuchkov. – But “less” does not mean “painless”, it means “less than at previous peaks”, but still serious. In addition, “pirola” is further evidence of the ongoing rapid evolution of the coronavirus and possible new surprises. The coronavirus is now like a fire that has turned into a smoldering state with flashes, but the growth of the fire is still possible.

Among the effective options for protection against coronavirus infection, the expert names vaccination, even if not adapted to new variants of the virus, first antigen generation vaccines, such as Sputnik, for example. Continued work on new vaccine options and an expanded vaccination campaign will also help in the long term.

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