December COVID News!

BA.2.86 “Pirola” now JN.1

The purpose of this post updates the December COVID news!  The variant is named BA.2.86, nicknamed by some experts as “Pirola”.  Pirola first hit the radar of virus hunters in late October.  Currently, Pirola is responsible for a handful of cases.  It was not really responsible for the wave of COVID infections that surged at the end of summer. Moreover that is changing.   Pirola is expected to make a bigger impact as the pandemic heads into its fourth winter.  BA.2.86 has another mutation JN.1.  Currently, in the USA, JN.1 now makes up about 44.1% of COVID-19 cases across the country.

The variant, called HV.1

A new COVID-19 variant called HV.1 has become the dominant strain in the United States.  Currently, HV.1 accounts for nearly one-third of cases nationwide.  These strains mutated from the highly infectious omicron virus.   Thus, over the summer the subvariants have increased.  By October, HV.1 rapidly gained speed and overtook other variants, including the EG.5, aka Eris.  Obviously HV.1  is the most prevalent strain, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Likewise, in the two-week period ending on November 11th, HV.1 accounted for 29% of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S., per the CDC.  After HV.1, the next most common variant was EG.5, which made up about 22% of cases.  Next is FL.1.5.1 or “Fornax” and XBB.1.16Arcturus”.  HV.1 has yet to gain a catchy nickname.

Presently all of the COVID-19 variants are descendants of omicron. Furthermore, more omicron subvariants will appear over the winter.

Lastly, the emergence of HV.1 demonstrates how the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, is able to mutate and give rise to new, highly contagious variants.  It is most prominent in the mid-Atlantic region, where it makes up about a third of the cases.

The Good News

HV.1 is part of the same viral family as the XBB variant.  The XBB vaccine will help prevent HV.1!

The Bad News

Currently, those eligible for the updated COVID-19 vaccines, only 7.1% of adults and 2.1% of children have received a dose. The new vaccine became available in mid-September.

Update to post 12/24/2023

Since this was posted, WHO has updated their advisory on JN.1.  Currently, in the USA, JN.1 now makes up about 44.1% of COVID-19 cases across the country.

Picture of the SAR-CoV-2 type viruses – love the colors

virus cells