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Coronavirus Explainers

“We Are Tracking Several COVID-19 Variants, Including EG.5,” Says WHO Director Dr Tedros

According to the WHO, there has been a steady increase in the proportion of EG.5, a new COVID-19 variant, globally

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"We Are Tracking Several COVID-19 Variants, Including EG.5," Says WHO Director Dr Tedros
The health agency had declared EG.5 and its sub-lineages, commonly known as Eris, as a ‘variant of interest’.

New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) is tracking several variants and strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including EG.5, for which it published an Initial Risk Evaluation on August 9. The evaluation is based on currently available evidence about EG.5. The risk remains of a more dangerous variant emerging that could cause a sudden increase in cases and deaths, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

The WHO Director added,

Despite the improvements, the WHO continues to assess the risk of COVID-19 to global public health as high. The virus continues to circulate, kill, and change in certain countries.

The health agency had declared EG.5 and its sub-lineages, commonly known as Eris, as a ‘variant of interest’.


Also Read: Genetic Variant In Immune System Could Be Behind Asymptomatic Covid Infection: Study

What Do We Know About EG.5 So Far?

EG.5, commonly known as Eris, is a descendant lineage of Omicron subvariant XBB.1.9.2. It carries an additional mutation in the spike protein, which SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter and infect human cells, compared to the parent subvariant. This lineage has been detected in 51 countries, including the United States, China, South Korea, and Japan, according to the initial risk evaluation.

The symptoms of EG.5 are the same as other variants, including fever, continuous cough, change in the sense of taste or smell, fatigue, runny nose and sore throat, among others. Its disease potential appears to be exactly the same as other variants’ as well, according to the report published at the John Hopkins School of Public Health.

The EG.5 lineage was first reported on February 17, 2023, and designated as a variant under monitoring (VUM) on July 19.

Around 30.6 per cent of the EG.5 sequences are from China, with 2,247 sequences. The other countries that have reported at least 100 sequences include the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, among others.

While EG.5 has shown increased prevalence, growth advantage, and immune escape properties, there have been no reports on the severity to date. However, due to its growth advantage and immune escape characteristics, EG.5 may cause a rise in case incidence and become dominant in some countries or even globally, the initial risk evaluation stated.

Also Read: Health Ministry Eases COVID-19 Guidelines, Drops RT-PCR Testing For International Flyers

WHO Guidelines For Countries

In concern to the upcoming variants and sub-lineages like EG.5, Dr Tedros issued standing recommendations for countries to manage COVID-19 cases in several major areas:

  1. All countries must update their national COVID-19 programmes using the WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, to prepare for the long-term sustained management of COVID.
  2. Countries must detect changes and trends in the coronavirus variants and strains, the disease severity and population immunity through collaborative surveillance.
  3. All countries should report COVID-19 data, including death and severe disease, genetic sequences, and data on vaccine effectiveness, to the WHO.
  4. Vaccination for COVID-19 must continue in all countries.
  5. Research and development (R&D) related to coronavirus must be initiated by countries, to generate more evidence on the prevention and control of the disease.
  6. Counties must contain measures to protect health workers and caregivers.
  7. Countries should continue to work towards ensuring equitable access to safe, effective, and quality-assured vaccines, tests, and treatments for COVID-19.

The WHO Director emphasised the importance of countries implementing the recommendations to protect people against the upcoming COVID-19 variants, strains and lineages. Dr. Tedros, said,

We cannot predict the future, but we can prepare for the future.

Also Read: Vaccine ‘Accessory’ Found To Stop Covid Infection In The Nasal Tract: Study

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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