A novel COVID-19 variant known as EG.5 or "Eris" has gained prominence in the U.S., accounting for over 17% of nationwide COVID-19 cases. This variant, first identified in China and subsequently detected in the U.S., has sparked concerns about its symptoms, dangers, and its interaction with vaccines.
Symptomatically, EG.5 doesn't appear to introduce any radical departures from the symptoms associated with other COVID-19 variants. Fever, cough, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell are commonly observed. Infectious disease experts, like Dr. David Alain Wohl from the University of North Carolina, have indicated that EG.5 doesn't seem to be evolving to become more dangerous. It falls within the Omicron family, similar to the XBB variant, and its symptoms align with those of previously known variants.
The World Health Organization has categorized EG.5 as a "variant of interest," suggesting it doesn't pose a greater public health threat than other variants. The available information indicates that it isn't weaker either. However, EG.5 cases may seem milder due to the presence of immunity from previous infections or vaccinations. Despite EG.5's classification, experts underline that staying vigilant against the virus remains important.
A critical aspect of protection against COVID variants is the effectiveness of vaccines and boosters. While the existing bivalent vaccine was designed for the BA.5 subvariant, it offers some level of defense due to overlaps among Omicron subvariants. The forthcoming vaccine, tailored for XBB, which is one subvariant removed from EG.5, is anticipated to provide a closer match to the current variant.
Addressing the broader context of COVID-19, experts expect an uptick in infections during the late fall and winter, as observed in previous COVID seasons. Given the virus's rapid mutation rate, the emergence of new variants is likely. Dr. Jessica Justman from Columbia University emphasizes the necessity of remaining adaptable in response to evolving variants. Staying vigilant and preparing for potential changes in the virus's behavior will be essential in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
In the context of protection, it's worth noting the significance of proper air filtration. MERV 13 filters, specifically designed to capture small particles, are crucial in reducing the spread of the virus indoors. These filters can trap particles as small as those carrying the COVID virus, enhancing indoor air quality and reducing the risk of airborne transmission. As we navigate the evolving landscape of COVID variants, effective filtration measures can contribute significantly to public health efforts.