COVID Variant Eris : As the Eris COVID-19 variant makes its presence felt on a global scale, let’s take a closer look at what we currently understand about this novel strain.
Monitoring and Designation
The World Health Organization (WHO) is closely monitoring a fresh strain of the coronavirus named EG.5, colloquially referred to as “Eris”. This variant is progressively accounting for a growing proportion of cases in various countries, including China and the United States.
Given its emergence, the WHO has categorized Eris as a “variant of interest”. This classification means that the strain is under watch for any mutations that might elevate its severity or impact.
Public Health Risk and Current Understanding
Based on the available evidence, the WHO has stated that Eris poses a relatively low public health risk on a global scale, akin to other prevailing variants. Notably, in May, the WHO reclassified COVID-19 as a persistent health concern rather than a global health emergency.
Symptoms and Transmission
The symptoms associated with the Eris variant are comparable to those linked with previous strains. These include common signs such as fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose, and alterations in taste and smell.
Despite EG.5 displaying increased prevalence, growth advantages, and immune escape attributes, there has been no discernible change in disease severity, as per the WHO’s recent risk assessment.
However, the unique attributes of this variant might propel it to become dominant in specific countries or even globally.
Variant Naming and Prevalence
Formally identified as EG.5, the moniker “Eris” has been informally bestowed upon it in online circles.
As of August 7th, analysis of sequencing data submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) revealed the highest concentration of EG.5 cases in China, followed by the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Canada.
This variant has also been detected in Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, and Spain. Notably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that EG.5 has ascended to dominance in the United States, accounting for 17.3% of cases as of the week ending August 5th.
The emergence of Eris aligns with the upcoming release of modified COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax. These new vaccines are targeted at addressing variants within the XBB lineage, descended from the Omicron variant.
Novavax’s vaccine, for instance, is designed to evoke immune responses targeting XBB subvariants, including XBB.1.5, XBB.1.16, and XBB.2.3.
EG.5 is a descendant of a variant that shares a spike amino acid profile with XBB.1.5. Consequently, experts anticipate that the reformulated vaccines slated for release this fall will provide enhanced protection against EG.5 compared to earlier vaccine iterations.
Expectations and Availability
The updated vaccines are anticipated to be accessible in the United States from late September. This rollout coincides with the transition of vaccine distribution responsibilities to the private sector, as confirmed by CDC Director Mandy Cohen.
As the situation unfolds, ongoing research and vigilance remain pivotal in understanding the full implications of the Eris variant and in formulating effective strategies to address its potential impact.