Delaware has recorded its first case of the Pirola strain of COVID, a variant that health officials believe is extremely infectious and worry is not going to be affected by current vaccinations.
The Delaware Public Health Laboratory identified a case of SARS-CoV-2 lineage BA.2.86 from a specimen provided to the laboratory for testing.
It did not offer any information about where that case occurred.
Because of the way the state tracks and confirms cases, it’s likely there already are many more cases of Pirola circulating in Delaware.
The BA.2.86 strain is classified as a Variant Being Monitored (VBM) by the SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is publishing weekly updates on this new variant including current risk assessment and scientific analysis on its website.
While governments across the world say they would not reinstitute the kind of lockdowns they did in 2020, unless a variant is remarkably deadly, those same governments are warning people to take precautions because the COVID-19 pandemic is not over.
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The Delaware Division of Public Health said that a new vaccine, designed to protect against new variants, will be available later this month pending final approvals.
In the meantime, Pubic Health recommends following the usual strategies to keep COVID-19 in check:
- Get vaccinated or boosted when eligible (Talk to your health care provider or visit a public health clinic to discuss what is best for your individual situation).
- Stay home if sick and get tested if you have symptoms or were exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- If you test positive, inquire about treatment.
- Wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces, as cases rise, or if you or someone you know is at higher risk for illness.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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