(CTN NEWS) – The emergence of a novel strain of Covid-19 referred to as EG.5, or “Eris,” is being closely observed by the World Health Organization. This variant is becoming increasingly prevalent in several countries, including China and the United States.
The WHO has classified EG.5 as a “variant of interest,” indicating that it will be meticulously studied for any genetic changes that could potentially enhance its severity.
Based on the available data, the WHO has determined that, currently, it poses a limited public health risk on a global scale, akin to other variants that are currently in circulation.
It is worth noting that in May, the WHO made a broader declaration stating that Covid-19 has transitioned into a persistent health concern and no longer qualifies as a public health emergency of international significance.
Emergence and Impact of Eris (EG.5): Symptoms, Prevalence, and Global Distribution
The symptoms associated with Eris are noted to be consistent with those observed in previous variants, encompassing fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose, and alterations in taste and smell.
In a risk assessment released on Wednesday, the World Health Organization stated, “Although EG.5 has exhibited heightened prevalence, a competitive edge in growth, and the ability to elude immune responses, there have been no documented alterations in disease severity thus far.”
The organization further indicated that these attributes might contribute to the variant’s potential to assume a dominant position in specific countries or even on a global scale.
Formally referred to as EG.5, the variant has garnered the informal moniker “Eris” through online usage, subsequently popularizing the designation of its EG.5.1 subvariant.
As of August 7, the sequencing data shared with the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) revealed that the highest concentration of EG.5 cases was detected in China, succeeded by the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Canada.
Furthermore, instances of this variant were also detected in Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, and Spain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EG.5 has now taken over as the predominant strain in the United States, comprising 17.3% of cases during the week concluding on August 5th.
New Covid Vaccines Targeting XBB Variants Set to Debut in Autumn Season
In the upcoming autumn season, Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax are poised to introduce new Covid vaccines targeting the XBB variants, which trace their origins back to Omicron.
Novavax has affirmed that its vaccine elicits effective immune responses against XBB subvariants, encompassing XBB.1.5, XBB.1.16, and XBB.2.3.
EG.5 is a derivative strain sharing a spike amino acid pattern with XBB.1.5, and it falls within the XBB lineage.
Justin Lessler, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, stated via email, “EG.5 belongs to the XBB lineage and exhibits a closer genetic relationship to the XBB variants compared to previous vaccine strains.
Consequently, the anticipation is that the modified vaccines set to be available this fall will provide enhanced protection against EG.5 compared to earlier vaccines.”
In the United States, the rollout of these new vaccines is anticipated to commence in late September, as CDC Director Mandy Cohen mentioned, marking a transition of vaccine distribution responsibilities to the private sector.
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