Eris, Pi and Pirola: Experts explained the difference between the three new variants of the coronavirus
New variants of the coronavirus continue to spread around the world, and experts warn that the number of infected will increase by the end of the summer.
As he writes "The Independent", three strains of omicron have emerged, showing significant mutations compared to the original variant.
The emergence of the Eris, Pi and Pirola variants coincides with unsettled weather and a "small but significant" rise in hospital admissions across England.
It followed 93.083 recorded cases of coronavirus in Britain since September 3, according to data from The Zoe Health Study.
The UK Health Protection Agency (UKHSA) said new cases and admissions to intensive care units continued to rise in the latest figures, and hospital admission rates rose in most age groups.
What do you need to know about the new forms of the coronavirus?
Pyrrola, or BA.2.86, is the latest omicron variant to appear this summer, with 34 more mutations than BA.2, according to Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist.
According to data from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two cases of Pirola have been reported in the US since August 23.
One of those cases was detected through genomic surveillance of travelers, proving it was "international transmission," the CDC said. However, they add that the current hospitalizations were probably not caused by Pirola, but they emphasize that this can change.
Looking globally, this variant of corona has been detected in Denmark, South Africa, Israel, Great Britain and the United States.
Eris, or EG.5.1, is a descendant of omicron and was first classified by the WHO as a variant of the coronavirus on August 9. It is the second most common variant in Britain after Arcturus (CKD.1.16) and the most common variant in the US, according to the CDC.
According to Professor Young, the key difference between Eris and other omicron variants is that it has an additional mutation (F456L), "which may explain its ability to evade the neutralizing antibody response".
Pi, or BA.6, is another variant of omicron. So far it has only been sequenced in Denmark and Israel.
Azim Majeed, head of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, said this variant is currently not common in people infected with the coronavirus.
Professor Christina Pagel told Sky News that, although it is still early days, Pi has "many new mutations that significantly differentiate it from previous omicron strains".
"It is very likely that we will see another wave of infection during the winter. "Hopefully, with various mitigations, including the fall booster doses, those waves will be under control," Yang said.
Professor Majed said the new variants were likely to cause more severe symptoms than previous variants, but that previously acquired immunity from the vaccine and from the underlying virus would still provide good protection for most people.