New COVID Variant “Eris” Surges in the UK and Beyond*


UK Reports Increase in COVID Cases Driven by Variant EG.5.1

In a concerning update, the UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA) has identified a new COVID variant, nicknamed “Eris” or EG.5.1, which has captured headlines due to its rapid spread. According to UKSHA’s report on Thursday, 5.4% of respiratory specimens tested positive for COVID-19, compared to 3.7% in the previous report, indicating a worrying increase in cases.

Eris Variant Accounts for One in Seven Cases

The variant, Eris or EG.5.1, is responsible for a staggering one in seven COVID cases in the UK, as reported by the Daily Mail citing UKHSA bosses. Data available on the UKSHA website reveals that in the second week of July, 11.8% of UK sequences were classified as EG.5.1, highlighting its alarming prevalence.

WHO Monitors EG.5 as Part of “Variants Under Monitoring” List

Adding to the global concern, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed EG.5 among the “variants under monitoring.” Although the international health emergency was declared over in May 2023, COVID-19 remains a significant threat. WHO’s latest report indicates EG.5 has been detected in 45 countries with a total of 4,722 sequences found.

Potential Factors Behind Rising COVID Cases

Experts believe several factors might be driving the surge in cases. Apart from the Eris variant, the recent release of movies Barbie and Oppenheimer could have contributed to the rise. Additionally, bad weather and waning immunity are also consider ossible reasons for the increasing infections.

COVID Cases on the Rise in the US Too

The United States is also witnessing a rise in COVID cases, with the US CDC reporting a 10% increase in the hospitalization rate since December. Hot weather appears to be a significant factor, as people prefer staying indoors, leading to reduced air circulation and providing a conducive environment for respiratory viruses to thrive.

Symptoms Remain Consistent

As for the symptoms, there have been no major changes from earlier waves of the pandemic. Health authorities advise getting test immediately if experiencing symptoms like headache, fever, or runny nose. Dr. Mary Ramsay of UKHSA reassures that overall admission rates remain low but are being closely monitored.

Precautionary Measures to Combat the Surge

To combat the rising cases, authorities stress the importance of frequent handwashing, avoiding unnecessary touching of surfaces, and staying away from crowded places. Ventilating indoor spaces and isolating when symptoms appear are also crucial precautionary steps to follow in these challenging times.