Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Explained: Eris, the new Covid variant on the prowl

A new subvariant of the Omicron variant has been detected in 45 countries, including India, and is responsible for the increase in Covid-19 cases in the US and UK

Samidha Jain
Published: Aug 9, 2023 01:13:19 PM IST
Updated: Aug 9, 2023 02:09:21 PM IST

Explained: Eris, the new Covid variant on the prowlIn India, Maharashtra was the first to report cases of the Eris variant in May. Image: Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

A new variant of the Covid-19 virus, known as Eris or EG.5.1, has emerged and is causing concern in the UK, where it has become the secondmost prevalent variant. This new subvariant of the Omicron lineage was initially identified on July 31. Subsequently, it has been responsible for approximately one in 10 Covid-19 cases in the UK. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning regarding the increasing cases of the Eris variant. However, this variant does not appear to be more severe than previous variants.

In the week starting July 10, about 11.8 percent of the Covid-19 sequences in the UK were associated with the Eris variant. As per more recent data, this figure has risen to 14.6 percent.

Meanwhile, in India, Maharashtra, which was the first to report cases of the Eris variant in May, is experiencing a rise in Covid-19 cases. Despite a lack of significant case increases for two subsequent months, the state's health department data now indicates a rise from 70 cases at the end of July to 115 cases as of August 6.

What is EG.5.1 or Eris?

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), EG.5.1, is the descendant of Omicron, and has been nicknamed Eris. As per a Times of India report, the speed of transmission of the Eris variant is 45 percent more than XBB.1.16—a Covid-19 variant that was detected in January 2023. WHO has added EG.5.1 to the list of variants under monitoring, and is not currently classified it as a variant of concern.

Symptoms, prevention and treatment

According to the ZOE Health Study, as reported by The Independent, the five most common symptoms of Omicron are:
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (mild or severe)
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
To protect oneself from the variant, it is important that one’s vaccination dose is complete. People should also follow the old guidelines made for protection against Covid-19 which include washing and sanitising hands, and wearing a mask in crowded areas. Patients with mild to moderate illness are usually advised to remain home and self-isolate for up to 14 days to avoid spreading the virus.