The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified the ‘Eris’ Covid strain a variant of interest as cases rise globally. Here’s what we know.
Known as EG.5 or Eris, it is a relative of the Omicron subvariant that made its rounds in 2022 and is has been detected worldwide including in China, the United States, the UK as well as in France, where there’s been an estimated 35% of new cases of this strain, according to the French Public Health Department (Santé Publique).
LOW RISK BUT MORE CASES
Whilst the WHO has judged the health risk as low, there have been jumps in the number of new Covid cases in France as well as a 26% rise in hospitalisations across all age groups of people suspected to have the Covid virus. The French levels are consistent with those being seen in the US and UK.
“Based on the available evidence, the public health risk posed by EG.5 is evaluated as low at the global level,” WHO said. “While EG.5 has shown increased prevalence, growth advantage, and immune escape properties, there have been no reported changes in disease severity to date.”
Scientists are saying that Eris seems to have a talent for evading antibodies, which has allowed it to proliferate. The timing is not ideal, as in a few weeks, people will be back to school and work after holidays and travel, the latter of which helps spread the disease faster.
Even so, as the risks are no higher, health care workers, who say the emergence of a new variant was no surprise, are just asking people to be careful and practice safety methods such as hand washing to help keep the virus from spreading as much as possible. They also stress that vaccinations are the best defence against this and future variants, and that people should consider boosters when they are available.
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