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COVID-19 is real, and new Pirola variant is being tracked


The claim: There is no new variant because COVID-19 does not exist

A Sept. 2 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) shows a screenshot of a post on X, formerly Twitter, which makes a claim about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it.

“There is no new variant of COVID,” reads part of the post. “COVID is not spreading again. COVID never was spreading. COVID is an amalgamation of symptoms caused by SARS-CoV-2.”

It concludes by stating, “There is no scientific evidence that SARS-CoV-2 causes any sort of disease, and there is no scientific evidence that SARS-CoV-2 exists. COVID was not, is not and never will be real.”

The post was liked more than 300 times in five days. The original X post was reposted more than 100 times.

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Our rating: False

Multiple researchers have isolated the virus that causes COVID-19, and its genome has been sequenced. Detailed images of the virus have been publicly available for years. There have been hundreds of millions of confirmed cases reported worldwide.

Virus has been isolated, detailed images released

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic as cases of COVID-19 spread around the globe. More than three years later, there have been more than 770 million confirmed cases and 6.9 million deaths worldwide attributed to the disease.

In that time, much has been learned about COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease. Researchers in different countries have isolated the virus, and its complete genome has been sequenced. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has also released detailed images of SARS-CoV-2 taken using its scanning and transmission electron microscopes.

A single particle of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is about 80 nanometers in diameter, according to MIT Technology Review. A human hair is, for comparison, about 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide. Each particle is a “sphere of protein protecting a ball of RNA, the virus’s genetic code,” and it’s “covered by spiky protrusions, which are in turn enveloped in a layer of fat,” according to the review.

When the virus infects someone, it attaches to the host’s cells and hijacks their “protein-making machinery,” forcing them to produce new copies of the virus, which in turn infect other healthy cells.

Fact check: No, CDC didn’t say new COVID-19 variant is more contagious among vaccinated

COVID-19 has caused more than 6.2 million hospitalizations and 1.1 million deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of infections nationwide has been going up since early July, as USA TODAY previously reported.

In late August, multiple health agencies warned of a new variant, BA.2.86, nicknamed Pirola. There have only been a small number of confirmed cases, but it has been found in multiple countries on different continents, including the U.S., Denmark, Israel and the U.K. New research suggests it isn’t likely to undermine vaccines.

USA TODAY has previously debunked similar claims that COVID-19 isn’t real.

The Instagram user and X user could not be reached.

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