The global COVID-19 arena is grappling with the emergence of the EG.5.1 variant, affectionately known as ‘Eris,’ which is galloping across countries, triggering an upswing in infections. This burgeoning threat, now swarming in more than 51 nations including heavyweights like China, the US, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and the UK, has sounded the alarm bells at the World Health Organization (WHO).
With a sweeping presence in the US, Europe, and Asia, ‘Eris’ has been tagged to outbreaks, even resulting in hospital admissions. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) underscores its prominence by revealing that a staggering one in every seven new cases can be attributed to this variant. This is a steep escalation from the early July scenario, where one in nine cases bore its imprint. Presently, ‘Eris’ commands a 14.6 percent share of cases, reigning as the UK’s second most prevalent variant.
In the wake of ‘Eris,’ the COVID-19 infection curve is mounting its ascent, climbing from 3.7 percent of 4,403 respiratory cases in the prior week to a more worrisome 5.4 percent of 4,396 cases this week. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) labels ‘Eris’ as the most predominant and rapidly proliferating COVID-19 sub-variant. Its tentacles are estimated to clutch around 17 percent of the current COVID cases in the nation.
Despite the ascendancy of ‘Eris,’ there’s a sobering comparison to the past. COVID-19-related hospitalizations have soared by more than 40 percent from their recent June lows, although they continue to stand more than 90 percent below the peak witnessed during the grim Omicron outbreak of January 2022, as disclosed by the CDC’s data.
The ominous winds of ‘Eris’ are further signified by a multitude of metrics. The viral presence in wastewater nationwide and the weekly prescriptions for the COVID treatment Paxlovid have both surged significantly within the past month, underscoring the relentless march of the variant.
So, what marks the arrival of ‘Eris’? The variant has brought forth a medley of symptoms, including a runny nose, sneezing, cough, fever, fatigue, among others. As the world grapples with yet another chapter in the ongoing battle against COVID-19, the spotlight remains firmly trained on ‘Eris,’ a formidable adversary that has altered the trajectory of the pandemic once again.