New COVID Variant EG.5 Taking Over in the US: Watch Out for Possible New Wave
Even though the start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a distant memory, new forms of the virus keep appearing and probably will for a while. So, it’s smart to be ready. This summer, new versions of the original COVID-19 germ are spreading across the United States, including one called EG.5 (also known as Eris) and another named BA.2.86.
The latest report from the CDC tells us that this newly found version of the virus is now the most common one in the USA and is causing new cases. In early August, about 17.3% of the COVID cases in the US were probably because of this EG.5 variant, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a 7.5% increase compared to early July.
Eris is one type of Omicron, which is a closely related group of virus types that have been competing to be the most widespread lately. Keep reading to learn all about this new version of the virus and what makes it capable of causing a new wave of sickness around the world.
Viruses change over time, so it was only a matter of time before a new version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the one causing COVID-19) showed up and began to spread. This summer’s version is known as EG.5, or Eris for short (named after a Greek goddess of conflict and discord). Eris, which is related to Omicron, has spread more than any other type of coronavirus in the country. So what exactly is this new form? What makes it able to cause new cases? Let’s find out.
The Omicron version, which first showed up in November 2021 and has had many different types since, is like the parent of EG.5, which was discovered in February. (It’s good to know that, except in very rare situations, the original Omicron, SARS-CoV-2, and the earlier, more dangerous Alpha and Delta versions are not common anymore.)
The newly discovered EG.5 COVID-19 version has a different kind of change in the spike protein, which is what helps the virus get into the body’s cells. This change might let the virus somewhat get around the immunity that builds up after someone gets sick or gets vaccinated.
Because this change could make the virus more contagious or severe, the World Health Organization (WHO) is keeping an eye on EG.5 as a “variant of interest,” which means countries should pay close attention to it.
Similar to other Omicron forms, EG.5 usually affects the upper part of the breathing system, leading to things like a runny nose, a sore throat, and other cold-like symptoms, rather than problems in the lower breathing system. Here are 10 signs of this new form that you shouldn’t ignore:
According to experts, EG.5 might be becoming more common than other virus types because it seems to have a “slightly helpful change.” Let’s learn 10 important things about this new, widespread COVID version.
The EG.5 form of the virus spreads more easily, but at least for now, it’s not thought to be more dangerous for public health. The World Health Organization says countries should share information about COVID-19 to keep track of what’s happening.
Other common types of the virus include XBB.1.16, which caused 15.6% of cases, and XBB.2.23, which caused 11.2% of cases, according to CDC data. Another 10.3% of COVID cases came from XBB.1.5, while 8.6% were caused by a virus similar to XBB, known as FL.1.5.1.