Corona Calls

Corona Calls for 09.05.2023 – BA.2.86 (“Pirola”) Revisited

Discussed in this episode:

New results from laboratory testing suggest BA.2.86 (nicknamed “Pirola”) may not be the menace people assessing its genetic sequence initially feared. These studies attach the spike protein from a COVID subvariant onto a harmless pseudovirus, then watch how it interacts with our cells and antibodies in a test tube.

  • The first series of lab tests (still in preprint) suggests: BA.2.86 is somewhat better at evading antibodies from vaccination or prior infection, but also less able to infect our cells when it’s not intercepted by antibodies. This may explain the epidemiological data for BA.2.86, which so far doesn’t show the kind of explosive growth trajectory associated with, for instance, the Omicron wave.
  •  Another lab’s work showed that the antibodies produced in response to recent subvariants in the XBB lineage target Pirola better than antibodies from the variants in circulation a year ago.

That’s not an all-clear: COVID levels in wastewater samples are rising in most parts of the country! But it’s other subvariants driving the increase, none yet with the explosive growth rate that characterized the emergence of Omicron in the winter of 2021.

Podcast music credit:  Now Son by Podington Bear, licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.