LifestyleWhat is the difference between Pirola, Eris and Pi? Covid variants,...

What is the difference between Pirola, Eris and Pi? Covid variants, explained

New Covid variants continue to spread around the world, and experts warn that cases will increase as the summer ends.

Three strains of Ómicron have appeared that present significant mutations with respect to the original variant.

The arrival of Eris, Pi and, more recently, Pirola, coincides with a “small, but significant” increase in hospitalizations in countries such as England.

The United Kingdom has recorded 93,083 new cases of Covid until September 3, according to the Zoe Health study.

In its latest update, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says Covid-19 cases and ICU admissions continue to rise, while hospital admission rates have increased in most age groups.


Pirola, or BA.2.86, is the latest Omicron variant to appear this summer, with 34 more mutations than BA.2, according to virologist Professor Lawrence Young.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, as of August 23, two cases of BA.2.86 had been detected in the United States.

One of the cases corresponds to a person detected through the CDC’s Genomic Surveillance of Travelers and the “identification of these cases in multiple geographies is evidence of international transmission,” the CDC reported.

However, the CDC noted that it is not “likely” that the current hospitalizations in the country are due to BA.2.86, but added that “this assessment may change as additional data become available.”

Globally, the variant has been detected in Denmark, South Africa, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States.


A descendant of Omicron, Eris, or EG.5.1, was first classified as a variant by the World Health Organization (WHO) on August 9. It is the second most prevalent variant in the United Kingdom after Arcturus, XBB.1.16, and the most common in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Alarms for Eris were initially raised on July 3, 2023 due to increased reports internationally, particularly in Asia, the UKHSA reported.

According to Professor Young, a key difference of Eris from other Omicron variants is that it has an additional mutation (F456L) in the spike protein “which could explain its ability to evade the neutralizing antibody response from previous Omicron infections.” “.


Pi, or BA.6, is another variant of Omicron. From July 24 until now it has only been found in Denmark and Israel.

Director of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, Professor Azeem Majeed, stated that this variant “is not currently identified very frequently in people infected with Covid-19.”

Professor Christina Pagel declared to SkyNews that, although it is in “very, very early” stages, Pi has “many new mutations that make it very different from previous Omicron strains.”

Concerns have been raised about a shortage of cough and cold medicines (PA)

(PA Archive)

What are the symptoms?

All three variants are strains of Ómicron. According to the ZOE Health study, the five most common symptoms of Ómicron are:

  • runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (mild or severe)
  • sneezing
  • Sore throat

However, three other frequently reported symptoms are diarrhea, eye irritation, and skin rashes, according to New Scientist.

To what extent should we worry?

Professor Young declared to The Independent that the new mutated variants “compete with each other and continue to change as they spread.”

He added: “We are already seeing an increase in symptomatic Covid infections and a small but significant increase in hospitalizations due to Covid.”

“It is very likely that we will see waves of infections over the winter. The hope is that with various mitigations, including fall vaccine boosters with updated XBB lineage mRNA vaccines, these will be small waves.”

Professor Majeed said that despite “concern” that the new variants are able to “evade immunity and cause more severe disease than previous variants”, pre-vaccination and pre-infection immunity “continues to provide a good protection for most people.

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