The BA.2.86 variant of SARS-CoV-2 – also referred to as 'Pirola' in the media – was declared a variant under monitoring by the World Health Organization and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on 23 August 2023.
UKHSA have since published a technical briefing with details of an investigation into a care home cluster associated with BA.2.86.
The BA.2.86 variant is notable due to having a high number of mutations, which has the potential to increase severity, transmission, or immune escape, though this has not yet been observed.
As of 12pm on 18 September 2023, six cases of BA.2.86 have been detected through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in Scotland.
Scottish wastewater surveillance data provided to Public Health Scotland (PHS) have also identified the presence of BA.2.86 in three different NHS health boards. Accuracy of the detection of specific variants varies due to the nature of wastewater sequencing data and caution is required when interpreting genomic wastewater analyses.
PHS is monitoring the evolving situation and are investigating the cases.
Confirmed cases of BA.2.86 in Scotland will be routinely reported here each Thursday at 9.30am.
Further information on COVID-19 can be found within our national respiratory infection and COVID-19 statistics report.