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Montevideo, April 24th 2024 - 09:46 UTC



Covid-19: WHO labels Pirola a Variant of Interest

Wednesday, December 20th 2023 - 09:28 UTC
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For now, the risk to public health was deemed low For now, the risk to public health was deemed low

The World Health Organization Tuesday (WHO) warned that in addition to COVID-19, other respiratory diseases such as influenza, RSV, and common childhood pneumonia were on the rise and advised people at risk to take precautionary steps.

 The United Nations (UN) agency also labeled the JN.1 strain (also known as Pirola) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as a Variant of Interest (VOI) stemming from the original BA.2.86 (Omicron) lineage. However, the additional risk for global public health was deemed low.

“With the arrival of winter in the northern hemisphere, JN.1 could increase the burden of respiratory infections in many countries,” the WHO warned in a statement and insisted on the use of vaccines as a preventive measure.

The entity also recommended wearing facemasks in crowded milieus or in closed or poorly ventilated areas, while keeping a safe distance from others whenever possible, in addition to covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands regularly, and updating Covid-19 and flu vaccination schemes.

The WHO also underlined people should stay at home when feeling unwell with symptoms or after being exposed to someone with either malady.

Mexico City

Health authorities in the Mexican capital confirmed the first detection of the Pirola variant of Covid-19 on Nov. 24 after laboratory results came back. The strain is very easy to transmit and therefore all protection standards need to be maintained, such as facemasks in public spaces, antibacterial gel, and frequent hand washing, in addition to seeking urgent medical attention in case of a respiratory infection.


In the Brazilian State of Pernambuco, 2,387 new cases of Covid-19 were reported between Dec. 10 and 16, a 59.4% increase from the previous seven days.

“For the time being, mild infections account for around 99% of cases,” a bulletin from State health authorities also noted. Five weeks ago, only 89 cases were recorded.

In this scenario, local experts warned about the need for vaccination, particularly during the year-end holidays and ahead of the summer's crowded carnival festivities. Failure to update vaccination can lead to outbreaks, high transmission rates, and the development of new variants, the scientists also explained.

“In Brazil, we had an average of around 1,500 deaths a day from Covid. Thank God we've managed to minimize this impact on our Covid mortality population through vaccination. We've also minimized the occurrence of severe forms. We used to queue for ICU beds, with as many as 100, 120 people a day waiting. And today we no longer see that pressure,” Epidemiologist José Lancart de Lima told Diario de Pernambuco.


In the Bolivian department of Cochabamba, a new phase of vaccination against Covid-19 was launched this week after a new batch of 117,000 Pfizer immunizers donated by the United States was received, including 17,840 pediatric doses.

Priority is given to immunocompromised people or patients with underlying diseases. Adults over 60 years of age, pregnant women, and healthcare personnel will receive a dose at an interval of 12 months. A single dose will be administered to the healthy population, both pediatric and adult.


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