As South Africa faces the emergence of the EG.5 Eris COVID-19 variant, authorities and the public are navigating the latest developments in the ongoing battle against the pandemic.
COVID-19 variant EG.5 Eris confirmed in South Africa
Here’s what you need to know about this new variant and its implications.
The National Department of Health in South Africa has confirmed the presence of the EG.5 Eris variant within its borders.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently designated Eris as a COVID-19 variation of interest, prompting global attention to its potential impact on the pandemic landscape.
Variant Characteristics and Spread
Although the WHO has indicated that EG.5 Eris is not expected to trigger major concerns, it has the potential to contribute to a rise in infections.
The variant is a subvariant of the Omicron lineage, which originally surfaced in November 2021. Like other COVID-19 variants, the symptoms of Eris include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, and sore throat.
In response to the emergence of the EG.5 Eris variant, health officials are urging the South African population to prioritize vaccination. As vaccines remain a critical tool in reducing the severity of illness and preventing the spread of the virus, their importance cannot be understated.
Variant Lineage and Characteristics
EG.5 Eris is a descendant of the lineage XBB.1.9.2, sharing spike amino acid features with XBB.1.5.
This variant was first reported in February 2023 and was initially categorised as a variant under monitoring (VUM). However, due to its distinct attributes, EG.5 and its sub-lineages were subsequently designated as a variant of interest (VOI).
Global Prevalence and Concerns
EG.5 Eris has garnered attention due to its increasing prevalence across the globe. As of 7 August 2023, over 7 300 sequences of the variant have been submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) from 51 countries.
Countries like China, the United States, and the Republic of Korea have witnessed a significant proportion of EG.5 sequences among COVID-19 cases.
Growth Advantage and Immune Escape
EG.5 Eris exhibits a growth advantage compared to other circulating variants.
Analysis of epidemiological data has revealed a notable increase in the global proportion of EG.5, highlighting its potential to become dominant in some regions.
The variant carries certain mutations that could impact its response to neutralizing antibodies.
Severity and Ongoing Monitoring
While EG.5 Eris has shown increased prevalence and growth advantage, there have been no reported changes in disease severity.
Nevertheless, due to its unique attributes, the variant continues to be closely monitored by health authorities to assess its potential implications for global public health.