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Doctor Reveals the New COVID Variant Symptoms You Can See on Your Face

The Pirola variant has some distinct symptoms, one doctor says.

The past three winters have proven to be a troublesome time for COVID. And while we may be out of the pandemic proper now, there is still good reason to be cautious about the colder season and what months of being indoors will mean for the spread of the virus—especially with a new COVID variant circulating. According to one doctor, there are certain signs of infection you should look out for, and they're not what you might expect. Read on to discover the Pirola symptoms he's warning about.

RELATED: COVID Symptoms Now Follow a Distinct Pattern, Doctors Report.

A new COVID variant is circulating around the U.S.

woman getting tested in a medical clinic for a corona virus, taking a nasal swab test

We've come a long way from the days of Delta and Omicron. In late August, a new COVID variant labeled BA.2.86 was detected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"This variant is notable because it has multiple genetic differences from previous versions of SARS-CoV-2," the CDC stated in its report.

The discovery of variant BA.2.86, which is now being called Pirola, has coincided with a rise in COVID activity as the colder seasons move in. As of Oct. 28, the CDC has reported a 9 percent increase in test positivity and 1.2 percent rise in emergency department visits for COVID in the U.S.

RELATED: Doctor Reveals COVID Symptoms in Patients Who Haven't Gotten a Fall Booster.

One doctor says its symptoms can appear on your face.

young woman with sore eyes

Johannes Uys, a general practitioner from Broadgate General Practice in London, told the Daily Express that there are two symptoms you can see on your face that make Pirola cases stand out from other COVID variants currently circulating.

"Unlike most previous variants, COVID Pirola can cause visible facial symptoms such as eye irritation and a skin rash," he told the newspaper.

RELATED: Here's Exactly How to Get 4 Free COVID Tests Sent to Your Home.

But there are other signs you should watch out for as well.

Restless man waking up early with headache after rough night

The Pirola variant isn't likely to just cause eye irritation and skin rashes, however. During an interview on ITV's This Morning, general practitioner Nighat Arif said that fatigue has played a "huge part" in COVID cases caused by this variant.

"We're seeing people who are just feeling shattered," she said.

And there are some other symptoms that might help differentiate Pirola from different variants and other respiratory illnesses like the flu.

"So with the new variant, the Pirola variant, we know that not only do you get temperature, runny nose, a headache, we still have that loss of sense of smell, but you might actually get diarrhea with it," Arif added.

Doctors say there is no evidence that this variant is going to cause more severe cases.


Another factor that makes Pirola unique is that it appears to have descended from the Omicron BA.2 variant that caused a surge of COVID cases in early 2022, Andrew Pekosz, PhD, virologist at Johns Hopkins University, told Today.

"The critical thing about [BA.2.86] is that it has a whole host of mutations compared to some of the Omicron variants that emerged about two years ago," he explained. "It represents a highly mutated form of SARS-CoV-2."

This doesn't mean it's necessarily going to be a more dangerous variant, though. In its original risk assessment of Pirola, the CDC said there is "no evidence that this variant is causing more severe illness." The agency also indicated that it believes the recently updated fall boosters targeting other strains will still be "effective at reducing severe disease and hospitalization" for cases caused by the Pirola variant.

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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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