April 17, 2024

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COVID-19 Not Over: The latest emerging potential variant is named EG.5

COVID-19 Not Over: The latest emerging potential variant is named EG.5



 

COVID-19 Not Over: The latest emerging potential variant is named EG.5.

 

As humanity adapts to coexisting with the coronavirus, news about the virus has struggled to capture much attention. However, as we have witnessed over the past three years, the virus continues to mutate and evolve. Lately, a new variant called EG.5, a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant, has started to gain attention and spark discussions.

 

According to the latest COVID-19 epidemiological update from the World Health Organization (WHO) on August 3rd, a total of 1 million new confirmed cases and over 3100 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported globally between July 3rd and 30th. The overall data continues to show a slow decline.

 

 

COVID-19 Not Over: The latest emerging potential variant is named EG.5

(Source: WHO)

 

 

 


What do we know about EG.5?

EG.5 is a subtype and descendant of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, indicating that Omicron still remains the most widely prevalent strain of the virus globally.

According to the latest data from the U.S. CDC in August, EG.5 has become the predominant COVID-19 variant in the United States with a prevalence of 17.3%.

It slightly surpasses several sub-lineages of the Omicron variant, including the XBB series.’

 

 

COVID-19 Not Over: The latest emerging potential variant is named EG.5

(Source: U.S. CDC)

 

Additionally, health departments in the UK, Thailand, and India have reported the detection of the EG.5 variant. The UK’s Health Security Agency stated that this variant was first detected in Asia and appeared in the UK in early July, with EG.5.1 accounting for 12% of virus sequencing samples by the end of July.

 

It’s important to note that while some websites and social media users have unofficially named this variant “Eris” following the Greek alphabet, this nomenclature has not been officially endorsed by the WHO.

In fact, both EG.5 and EG.5.1 are classified within WHO’s monitoring system as “variants under monitoring” and have not yet reached the level of Variants of Interest (VOI) or Variants of Concern (VOC).

 

 


Maintaining vigilance without panicking about specific variants

Regarding this newly emerging variant, Stuart Turville, a virologist from the University of New South Wales, suggests that EG.5 is a bit more “nimble” and competitive compared to its counterparts. It also exhibits a stronger ability to respond to antibodies generated by vaccines.

However, Stuart emphasizes that EG.5 has only shown slight changes compared to other Omicron sub-lineages, resulting in a slightly enhanced ability to bind to and enter cells.

 

Srinath Reddy, a professor at the Public Health Foundation of India, likens EG.5 to “several Barbie dolls in the same movie,” essentially still being a part of the Omicron variant family. Similar to the general understanding of Omicron, EG.5 remains “less invasive and less fatal” in the body.

Reddy believes that this variant could dominate for a while and then be replaced by newer variants. While EG.5 is more transmissible, its toxicity has not increased, and its impact on the human body is nearly the same as other variants.

 

Medical experts continue to recommend that vulnerable populations with faster antibody decline should reinforce their protection through vaccines, but they also emphasize that there is no need to panic.

 

Reddy underscores that while this variant might lead to more hospitalizations, especially among the elderly, there hasn’t been a notable increase in ICU admissions or death data.

He emphasizes that vigilance is still necessary as the coronavirus remains present, but there’s no need to fear specific variants.

 

As the autumn season approaches, many countries are preparing for increased immunization efforts during the fall and winter. In the case of the United States, health officials are focusing on using vaccines developed against the XBB variant as a key strategy for preventing COVID-19 during the upcoming colder months.

 

Eric Topol, a professor of Molecular Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, mentioned in a media interview that there is enough overlap among different variant strains to suggest that the new XBB vaccine will protect individuals infected with the EG.5 variant from severe illness.

He further explains that the updated vaccine’s match with the current circulating virus will be better than the previous formula targeting the BA.5 sub-variant.

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 Not Over: The latest emerging potential variant is named EG.5

(source:internet, reference only)


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