WHO classifies Covid EG.5 as ‘variant of interest’. Here’s what you should know

World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized EG.5 strain of the Covid-19 virus as a ‘variant of concern’. The variant was reported on 17 February this year and later designated as a variant under monitoring (VUM) on July 19.

WHO had designated EG.5 and its sub-lineages as a variant of interest (VOI) during its latest risk evaluation on Wednesday. The international organization categorizes variants into three categories namely: a) variants of interest b) variants of concern and c) variants of high consequence.

EG.5 is a sub-variant of omicron and is considered to be a descendant of the XBB lineage of the virus. The new subvariant accounts for nearly 17 percent of new cases in the US, up from 12 percent a week earlier and 1 percent at the end of May, reported NBC News.

According to WHO officials quoted by the BBC, there is no suggestion that the E.5 variant is more severe or has higher risks compared to the previous variants of interest.

A PTI report quoting the WHO risk evaluation report also noted that although EG.5 has shown increased prevalence, growth advantage and immune escape properties, there have been no changes in disease severity yet. 

The report also added that although increases in proportion of EG.5 and COVID-19 hospitalization have been observed in countries like Japan and Korea, no association has yet been made between the EG.5 variant and these hospitalizations.

Reportedly, EG.5 could lead to a rise in case incidence and become dominant globally or in some countries owing to its growth advantage and immune escape characteristics.

WHO has advised the countries to share information on the growth advantage of EG.5 variant and also provide its sequence information. The global health body along with its Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC) assesses the impact of variants on the performance of COVID-19 vaccines in order to inform decisions about updates on vaccine composition.

(With PTI inputs)

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Updated: 11 Aug 2023, 09:23 AM IST

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