Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany – The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday classified a new strain of COVID-19 as a “variant of interest.”
The EG.5 variant has been spreading rapidly in the United States, encompassing over 17% of cases.
It has also been detected in China, South Korea, Japan and Canada.
What else do we know about the EG.5 variant of COVID-19?
The WHO said that the new variant does not at present seem to pose an additional public health risk compared to other strains of COVID-19.
“Collectively, available evidence does not suggest that EG.5 has additional public health risks relative to the other currently circulating Omicron descendent lineages,” the organization said.
It said that a more comprehensive evaluation of the risk posed by EG.5 was needed.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said that while EG.5 had increased transmissibility, infections were not more severe than other Omicron variants.
“We don’t detect a change in severity of EG.5 compared to other sublineages of Omicron that have been in circulation since late 2021,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mandy Cohen, the director of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that updated vaccines to be offered in mid-to-late September will provide protection against the variant.
The CDC chief said that the mutations in the virus amounted to “small changes” and “subtypes of what we’ve seen before.”
Deutsche Welle (DW) is Germany’s international broadcaster