By Evelyn Lee
October 11, 2023
UPDATED 12:00PM EST
[Photo credit: Yale Medicine]
The COVID Eris variant was first identified in the late summer of 2023, sparking concerns due to its rapid spread. It was initially detected in several countries, but its exact origin remains unclear. Like its predecessors, this variant has undergone genetic mutations, which raise questions about its potential impact on public health.
One of the primary causes for concern with the Eris variant is its mutations. While not as numerous as some previous variants, it carries changes in the spike protein region of the virus. The main spike protein that’s mutated will allow the Eris strain (EG.5.1) to avoid the body’s antibodies more easily. This mutation is crucial for the virus’s entry into human cells.
Early data suggests that the COVID Eris variant may be more transmissible than earlier strains of the virus. This heightened transmissibility has led to an increase in cases in affected regions, putting additional pressure on healthcare systems and prompting a sense of urgency in the global response.
One of the more important questions include the idea of how effective existing vaccines are against the Eris variant. Initial reports indicate that vaccine efficacy may be slightly reduced, particularly in preventing infection. However, vaccines still appear to be highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death, which is promising news.
Because of the nature of the virus, it’s important to continue adhering to public health measures. This includes vaccination, mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand hygiene. These precautions are necessary in order to fight against the virus, regardless of the specific variant.
News Medical. “Eris sublineage EG51 can escape neutralizing antibodies better than other SARS-CoV-2 lineages.” https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230914/Eris-sublineage-EG51-can-escape-neutralizing-antibodies-better-than-other-SARS-CoV-2-lineages.aspx#:~:text=Mutations%20in%20the%20spike%20protein%20of%20the%20Eris%20sublineage%20EG,the%20rise%20in%20many%20countries.
Yale Medicine. “What to Know About EG.5 (Eris)— the Latest Coronavirus Strain.” https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/covid-eg5-eris-latest-coronavirus-strain
Errands, Michael. “Covid Eris: What to know about new variant EG.5 dominating U.S cases” https://www.reuters.com/world/what-is-eris-new-covid-variant-2023-08-14/