Understanding the EG.5 Variant of Covid-19: Prevalence, Symptoms, and Prevention Measures

2023-08-14 13:14:10

The World Health Organization (WHO) this week designated a new variant of covid-19 as a “variant of interest.”

Its scientific name is EG.5, although it is colloquially known as Eris, following the tradition of using the Greek nomenclature, despite the fact that the WHO does not officially call it that.

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This variant is related to the omicron subvariant XBB.1.9.2, and, according to the WHO, its prevalence is increasing worldwide, especially in countries such as the United States, China, Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“The covid-19 virus has not gone away and we hope to see it circulate more widely in the winter months, with the number of people getting sick increasing,” said Mary Ramsay, director of public health programs for the New York State Health Security Agency. United Kingdom.

Globally, during the week of July 17-23, for example, the prevalence of Eris was 17.4%.

“This is a notable increase compared to the information reported four weeks earlier (from June 19 to 25), when the global prevalence was 7.6%,” says the WHO.

More contagious, not more severe

Without testing, it’s easy to mistake covid symptoms for a cold or the flu. (Getty Images).

Although cases are increasing, it is important to note that this is a variant that does not present a particular risk to public health.

And while it’s more contagious and can evade immunity, it doesn’t cause a more virulent disease compared to other variants.

“While EG.5 has shown an increase in its prevalence, a growth advantage, and immune-evading properties, no changes in disease severity have been reported to date,” the WHO document states. .

Symptoms

Eris symptoms do not vary greatly from the covid symptoms we are already used to, and can vary in intensity: from mild to more severe.

They include fever or chills, headache, muscle or body pain in general, shortness of breath, and loss of sense of taste or smell.

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It can also lead to coughing, sneezing, and runny nose.

It is important to continue with some of the prevention measures that we resort to during the pandemic. (GETTY IMAGES).

The problem is that because these symptoms can easily be confused with those of the flu, now that screening is almost non-existent, it is very easy to contract the disease without identifying it as such.

It is estimated that the current vaccines and boosters serve as protection, with which experts recommend continuing with this strategy, as well as maintaining the behaviors learned during the pandemic such as the use of masks, especially in crowded environments and regularly ventilating closed environments. .

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently noted that “countries should not let their guard down” even though people are now better protected by vaccinations and previous infections.

“We urge governments to maintain and not dismantle the systems they have developed for covid-19,” he added.

So far, covid-19 has killed more than 6.9 million people worldwide, and there have been more than 768 million confirmed cases since the virus first appeared.

The WHO declared the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and ended the global emergency status in May of this year.

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