Covid-19 new variant Eris drives cases in the UK, US: Facts
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Covid-19 new variant Eris is spiking cases across the UK, US: Here’s what we know

Covid-19 new variant Eris is spiking cases across the UK, US: Here’s what we know

It has been detected in 38 states in the US and 39 countries till date

Marisha Singh
Covid-19 sub-variant eris driving new case surge

The recent weeks of summer have seen a double-digit spike in new Covid-19 cases across the US, as per data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country saw a 12 per cent jump in Covid-19 cases in the last week of July.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) had announced that the Covid-19 virus was no longer deemed a global health emergency in May, the rise in cases across Asia, Australia, UK, and US has public health officials issuing taking note.

“The emergency of Covid-19 has been lifted and we’re no longer in a crisis phase, the threat of Covid-19 is not gone. So, keeping up with surveillance and sequencing remains absolutely critical,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said on July 26.

The sudden uptick in cases in the US is being attributed to a new sub-variant of the Omicron (XBB.1.9.2.) called EG.5 (XBB. This sub-variant includes a strain with a subgroup of variants designated as EG.5.1, dubbed Eris.

The WHO started tracking the EG.5.1 (Eris) variant more than two weeks ago when a sudden rise in the number of people testing positive caused concern. It has been detected in 39 countries and 38 states in the US till date.

Meanwhile, the UK classified ‘Eris’ as a variant on July 31 but not as a variant of concern. It is estimated that one in seven positive cases in England are the Eris variant, making it the second most prevalent variant in the country.

A report published by the UK Health Security Agency on August 3 stated that the number of Covid-19 cases continued to rise compared with the results from the previous two weeks.

What is Eris?

The EG.5.1 variant, reportedly originated in Asia.

The EG.5.1 sub-variant was nicknamed by a biology professor, as “Eris” and the name caught on social media. It is among the strains causing a rise in Covid-19 cases reported across American states that had seen low numbers in the past few months. Reports say EG.5 is one of the fastest growing lineages worldwide.

The CDC’s data tracking shows that in April the EG.5 variant comprised just 0.2 per cent of the cases reported in the US which in the first week of August had ballooned to 17 per cent.

Should you still be concerned about Covid-19?

While vaccination penetration is extremely high, new strains of the virus have resulted in a rise in cases.

The US’ Food and Drug Administration has recommended that booster shots be tweaked to target the XBB.1.5 variant which has also spawned the ‘Eris’. The reformulated vaccines booster shots are expected to be rolled out in the fall.

The at-risk group will continue to be senior citizens, those with co-morbidities, and pregnant women.

What are the Covid-19 ‘Eris’ symptoms?

Symptoms of the EG.5.1 subvariant reportedly include a runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing and a sore throat.

What happened to older variants?

As the Omicron mutation continues to evolve, the original strain of the virus that causes Covid-19 can no longer be detected in humans, scientists have said.

The Alpha and Delta mutations that worsened the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 appear to be extinct, with the Omicron strain now accounting for most of the world’s cases.

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