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New COVID-19 variant ‘Eris’ and its potential impact on Aged Care

Ryan Gregory, professor of integrative biology at the University of Guelph in Ontario dubbed the new variant ‘Eris,’ based on the second-largest known dwarf planet in the solar system.

<p> The COVID-19 variant — EG.5.1 had spiked in prevalence across the United States of America and the United Kingdom. [Source: Shutterstock]</p>

The COVID-19 variant — EG.5.1 had spiked in prevalence across the United States of America and the United Kingdom. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • COVID-19 variant EG.5.1 known as ‘Eris’ accounted for 14.55 percent of all SARS-CoV-12 cases in the United Kingdom as of July 20, 2023
  • The U.K. Health Security Agency noted that instances of EG.5.1 had grown by 20.51 percent weekly

 

The World Health Organisation added a new SARS-CoV-2 variant to the ‘currently circulating variant under monitoring’ roster — EG.5# — which includes a strain known as EG.5.1, nicknamed ‘Eris.’

The number of COVID-19 cases which had been identified as EG.5 have steadily increased since May. EG.5 is a descendant of XBB.1.9.2, with one extra spike mutation, first detected in Asia.

According to the WHO there is no evidence that EG.5 is fueling any significant rises in cases or deaths of COVID-19 or that infections involving the virus are more severe. Symptoms associated with EG.5 reportedly include: a runny nose, fatigue, sneezing and a sore throat.

The WHO had cautioned that although COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to decline globally, hospitalisations and deaths were a greater indicator, as testing and reporting had also slowed.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD addressed trends of reporting and testing for COVID-19, along with general passivity to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in his opening remarks, delivered July 19.

“WHO continues to advise people at high risk to wear a mask in crowded places, to get boosters when recommended, and to ensure adequate ventilation indoors,” he said.

“We urge governments to maintain and not dismantle the systems they built for COVID-19.”

Adrian Esterman, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of South Australia, told SBS that he expected a similar pattern — to the presence of Eris in the U.K. and U.S. — to follow in Australia.

“Eris appears to have a bit of an advantage in terms of transmissibility, and it’s starting to take over,” Professor Esterman is quoted as saying.

“We’ll probably see another peak of cases coming in the next few weeks, which will be due to Eris.”

Aged care home residents were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through its transmission and the greater risk of complications for older people. Medical professionals have recommended those working or living in aged care facilities stay up to date with vaccinations and adapt to virus-related news based on advice from the Australian Government.

For the best protection, the peak Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has advised all adults aged 65 years and over, who have medical comorbidities that increase their risk of severe COVID-19 or disability with significant health needs, to receive a 2023 COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.

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