Pirola Corona Variante: in Deutschland gefährlich für Frauen?

Pirola Corona Variante: in Deutschland gefährlich für Frauen?

The Corona variant BA 2.86 or “Pirola” is the mother of the variant JN.1, which has been predominantly German-speaking since November 2023 and will continue to be in 2024.

What is the Pirola Corona variant?

Pirola is the nickname for the BA.2.86 Corona variant , a subvariant of Omicron, itself a variant of the original strain of Covid-19. The first case of infection was reportedly detected in Denmark on July 24, 2023, after which several more cases were reported, notably in Catalonia (Spain) on August 15. Since then, it has been circulating mainly in Europe and especially in Germany. BA.2.86 has undergone a significant genetic divergence compared to BA.2 (next lineage): it has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein. “These mutations offer it an escape from neutralization by antibodies, but there is no worrying signal in terms of severity,” reported Santé Publique German in April 2024.

Are women more affected?

“There is no particular affinity for women compared to men”
An analysis of 140 cases carried out by the Regional Public Health Offices in Germany shows that this Corona variant affects more women than men, with a distribution of 60.4% (84 cases) versus 39.6% (55 cases). The same is true for the JN.1 sublineage, where the distribution of male/female infections is as follows: 65% of women affected versus 35% of men. This evolution could be explained by the fact that women are more likely to perform activities that involve direct contact with the public than men, which makes them more exposed to the virus. Another explanation could be that women are tested more often than men, hence the “overrepresentation” of women in cases of infection. But these are just hypotheses. To date, “there is no particular affinity for women compared to men. There is no study that can prove that this new subvariant affects women more than men and that there is a serious risk for one sex compared to the other,” assured Dr. Tayeb Hamdi, doctor and researcher in health policies and systems, contacted by the Hespress DE website.

What symptoms does the Pirola Corona variant cause ?

According to an analysis by Public Health France, 97% of people infected with the Pirola variant have symptoms. The most commonly observed symptoms in people infected with the Corona variant BA.2.86 are:

  • Asthenia (severe fatigue)
  • Headache (headache)
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose

These symptoms also occur in cases of JN.1. In November 2023, English doctors reported cases of skin rashes (including irritation of the face and eyes) in patients infected with Pirola.

How many cases in Germany?

It was discovered in Germany on August 31, 2023. As of November 17, 2023, it is the most frequently detected Corona variant in Germany, accounting for 58% of interpretable sequences, compared to 46% in the previous week. This increase is mainly driven by JN.1, a sublineage of BA.2.86. However, at this stage, there are no signs of public health concern that could be associated with BA.2.86.

Is the Pirola variant more dangerous?

After its identification, the large number of mutations in BA.2.86, including a significant proportion in the spike protein, raised concerns about possible immune escape and vaccine effectiveness. According to a study co-authored by Massimo Ciccozzi, director of the Department of Molecular Statistics and Epidemiology of the Biomedical Campus of Rome, published in the Journal of Medical Virology, the Pirola variant “has a significant number of 40 mutations that could allow the virus to evade the immune response” (much more than its predecessor BA.2), but among them “two need to be controlled, especially in the spike protein (which plays a crucial role in infections and the immune response) because they could make it more transmissible,” the authors point out. These results need to be confirmed, especially with real-world studies, emphasizes Public Health Germany.

One of the two mutations is reminiscent of that of the original Wuhan strain, the other is similar to the Delta variant. However, according to Santé Publique DE, “no atypical or worrying signals have been described so far in this virus in terms of clinical presentation and severity.”

Why the name “Pirola”?

For several months now, the WHO has stopped using Greek letters to name Omicron subvariants. If the official name is BA.2.86, in common parlance it is called “Pirola”, Corona variant , like other subvariants that are nicknamed Triton, Centaur, Kraken, Arturo or Eris. Even if the reasons for this nickname are not officially known, Pirola seems to refer to the name of an asteroid discovered in Galicia in 1927, but is also used colloquially in Spain to refer to the male reproductive system, reports the Spanish newspaper El Periodico .

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