There is a new COVID variant: EG.5, also known as Eris.
- The WHO has classified the EG.5 as a Variant of Interest (VOI). At time of writing, it is not a Variant of Concern (VOC), which is one step worse that a Variant of Interest.
- Variants of Concern are those whose characteristics have a significant influence on the spread of the virus — because of higher rates of contagion and rising infection rates, or an increase in severe cases of the illness and COVID mortality rates.
- the subtype EG.5.1 (Ed.: note the added “.1” which indicates this is the first version of EG.5) and posted a comment on its nickname, Eris, suggesting that the nickname may lead to some confusion as we talk more and more about the variant.
- Eris is also the name of one of the largest dwarf planets in our solar system — Eris is the Greek goddess of chaos. But, notes Gregory, the nickname is unlikely to cause a big wave in itself.
- The WHO classified EG.5 as a VOI due to rising infection rates attributed to the variant, the fact that it spreads fast and its ability of so-called “immune escape”.
- It is a descendent lineage of XBB. 1.9.2. It has an additional spike mutation that may explain why it can escape the human immune system’s response.
- So far, EG.5 has been reported in 51 countries and there has been a steady increase in prevalence globally — the majority of sequences are from China, followed by the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Canada, per WHO.
- XBB.1.16, also called the “Arcturus” variant, remains the most prevalent strain of COVID-19 worldwide.
- WHO considers the public health risk posed by EG.5 to be “low” and similar to that of XBB.1.16 and other variants of interest.
Is EG. 5 more transmissible?
- This variant is very similar to other omicron variants, which means it’s highly transmissible.
- However, it is likely more transmissible than other XBB variants.
- According to WHO, EG.5 has increased immune escape properties compared to other variants. “EG.5 may cause a rise in case incidence and become dominant in some countries or even globally,”.
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