The global health body, World Health Organization (WHO), is closely monitoring a fresh strain of Covid-19 called EG.5, also known as “Eris.” This variant is gaining prevalence in nations such as China and the United States. Tagged as a “variant of interest,” it’s being observed for potential mutations that might increase its severity.
As of now, the WHO asserts that Eris poses minimal global public health risk, comparable to other concurrent variants. The WHO declared in May that Covid-19 was no longer an international public health emergency but a persistent health concern.
Symptoms and Transmission
Eris showcases symptoms akin to previous variants: fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose, and altered taste and smell. While Eris exhibits increased prevalence, growth advantages, and immune evasion traits, disease severity remains unchanged, states the WHO.
The variant, officially labeled EG.5, acquired the nickname “Eris” online, which later popularized its EG.5.1 subvariant.
Global Presence and Dominance
Sequencing data submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) by August 7 highlights the majority of EG.5 cases in China. Following closely are the U.S., South Korea, Japan, and Canada. It has also been identified in Australia, Singapore, the U.K., France, Portugal, and Spain.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals EG.5 as the leading strain, comprising 17.3% of cases by the week ending August 5.
Novavax, Pfizer, and Moderna are gearing up to launch new Covid vaccines this autumn targeting the XBB variants originating from Omicron. EG.5 is a descendant of a variant that shares spike amino acids with XBB.1.5. Experts believe that the upcoming reformulated vaccines will provide better protection against EG.5 due to its closer relation to the XBB lineage.
CDC Director Mandy Cohen anticipates the availability of new vaccines in the U.S. by late September as vaccine distribution shifts to the private sector.
Eris emerges as a vigilant presence, a new character in the ongoing Covid saga. As the WHO keeps watch, Eris navigates the global landscape, exhibiting familiar symptoms yet veiled in mystery. While its prevalence rises, its intentions remain uncertain. Scientists and health agencies stand ready, preparing reformed vaccines to challenge this enigmatic interloper. The journey continues as the world adapts and evolves in the face of new uncertainties.
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