In the ongoing battle against COVID-19, health officials and scientists around the world are once again on high alert due to the emergence of a new variant of the virus. Named BA.2.86 or Pirola by those closely monitoring its mutations, this highly mutated version of the virus has raised concerns within the medical community. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA have initiated monitoring efforts to track the spread and impact of this novel variant. Among the various strategies being employed, one particularly crucial approach stands out: checking body temperature.

Understanding the BA.2.86 Variant

The BA.2.86 variant of the COVID-19 virus has gained attention due to its extensive mutational profile. With over 30 mutations identified, it holds a significant number of changes, reminiscent of the evolutionary leap that led to the emergence of the Omicron variant. These mutations include alterations in the spike protein, the key structure that the virus uses to bind to human cells and facilitate infection. This novel variant is distinct from previously known strains, like XBB.1.5, which prompted updates to the upcoming fall COVID-19 vaccine shots.

Monitoring Body Temperature

Monitoring body temperature plays a vital role in understanding and containing the spread of the BA.2.86 variant. While the variant’s mutations are a cause for concern, temperature checks offer an accessible and relatively quick method to detect potential infections. Here’s why body temperature checks are crucial in this situation:

  1. Early detection of infections – An elevated body temperature is one of the common early signs of viral infections, including COVID-19. By implementing regular temperature checks, preferably twice daily, individuals with potential infections can be identified early, allowing for timely isolation and testing. Rapid identification of cases is crucial to prevent the further spread of the virus.
  2. Identification of asymptomatic cases – Some individuals infected with the BA.2.86 variant may not exhibit noticeable symptoms, making them potential carriers who can unknowingly transmit the virus to others. Monitoring body temperature can help identify asymptomatic carriers who might otherwise go unnoticed.
  3. Reducing transmission – COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets. Infected individuals, even those who are asymptomatic, can release infectious particles when they talk, cough, or sneeze. Prompt identification and isolation of individuals with elevated body temperatures can help curb the transmission of the virus within communities.
  4. Focused testing and resources – Resources for COVID-19 testing and healthcare are limited, especially during times of heightened alert. Monitoring body temperature allows for targeted testing of individuals who are more likely to be infected, ensuring that resources are utilized efficiently.
  5. Surveillance and data collection – Regular temperature checks provide valuable data for epidemiological studies. By monitoring temperature trends within specific regions or populations, health officials can gain insights into the potential spread and impact of the BA.2.86 variant.

The way forward

As health organizations like the CDC and WHO work diligently to monitor and respond to the BA.2.86 variant, it is imperative to employ a multi-faceted approach that includes temperature monitoring. While this strategy is not a standalone solution, it complements other preventive measures such as vaccination, wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, and maintaining physical distancing.

In a world where the virus continues to evolve, our tools for detection and prevention must evolve as well. Regular body temperature checks using a easy to use, non-invasive and very accucarte thermometer like Exergen’s Temporal Artery Thermometers offer a simple yet powerful tool to identify potential infections early, ultimately contributing to the global effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.