Although COVID may seem like a thing of the past, the virus is continuously mutating and spreading. This summer, the new dominant strain worldwide was EG.5 (also referred to as Eris).
In this post, we’ll provide comprehensive information about this new COVID variant, covering:
- Spreading statistics from the CDC and WHO.
- Common symptoms of EG.5.
- The Effectiveness of booster shots against EG.5.
EG.5, a descendant of Omicron, has become the predominant subvariant worldwide. Recently designated a variant of interest by the World Health Organization, EG.5 initially emerged in China, Japan, and South Korea but has since reached North America and Europe.
Currently, there’s no conclusive evidence that Eris leads to more severe COVID-19 cases. Infectious disease specialist from Yale, Scott Roberts MD, explains, “I am not aware of data that suggests EG.5 leads to worse cases of COVID-19 compared to prior variants.” However , data indicates that it spreads more rapidly than previous strains.
The WHO recently reported a 63% increase in worldwide COVID-10 cases in August, with Eris contributing to 21.5% of infections in the USA, potentially driving an increase in cases and hospitalizations.
As of the late August:
- Hospitalizations rose by 18.8%, with over 15,000 new admissions.
- Fatalities increased by 17.6%.
- Positive COVID-19 tests rose by almost 15%.
It’s essential to note that these numbers are significantly lower than those in previous summers when hospitalizations peaked at 43,000.
Rowland Kao, a Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Data Science at the University of Edinburgh, suggests that the situation is “nowhere near anything as dramatic” as the global spread of Omicron’s original variant in 2021.
Will the New Booster Shot Protect You Against EG.5?
Moderna, Novavax, and Pfizer are all developing booster shots for the upcoming fall, although they may not precisely match EG.5. . These new boosters target a close relative, Omicron XBB 1.5. However, Moderna reports promising results in clinical trials, showing effectiveness against EG.5 and FL 1.5.1.
Dr. Roberts states, “ Given the genetic similarities, there will still be a good degree of protection from the booster.” Antiviral medications \and at-home rapid tests are also expected to work effectively against EG.5.
What are EG.5 Symptoms?
Experts agree that the new COVID variants typically present mild symptoms, often resembling the common cold. Common symptoms include:
- Cough (with or without phlegm)
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Sore throat
- An altered sense of smell
- Body aches
If you experience any of these upper respiratory symptoms, experts strongly encourage COVID-19 testing to prevent the spread of the virus, especially among vulnerable populations.
Infectious disease specialist Dean Winslow, MD, emphasizes the importance of testing: “Most of us would want to know if we’re actually infected with COVID-19 so we can be especially careful and maybe avoid elderly relatives and others who are at greater risk of severe illness.”
While COVID cases and hospitalizations are on the rise, severe illness appears to be less common. Nevertheless, the virus continues to mutate and spread, emphasizing the need for vigilance.
If you suspect you have COVID-19, find testing locations near you with our global directory.