What is known about the new Corona variant EG.5

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The new EG.5 coronavirus variant continues to spread worldwide, but experts do not consider it more dangerous than other variants. “In my estimation, EG.5 poses no particular danger,” said Richard Neher, head of the Evolution of Viruses and Bacteria Research Group at the University of Basel’s Biozentrum.

The public health risk posed by EG.5 is low according to current knowledge, the World Health Organization (WHO) also wrote a few days ago. It said it is equivalent to the risk posed by XBB.1.16 and some other variants currently circulating. Eris spreads remarkably quickly and can escape the immune system comparatively easily. However, the disease severity is unchanged compared to different current variants. However, this also means that the variant “Eris” can be just as responsible for severe disease courses as Long Covid and can also cause secondary damage.

The mutation that helps the immune system escape more easily
EG.5 does have a mutation that may cause it to evade the immune system a little more quickly, he said. “But the same mutation is also found in other variants,” Neher explained. “The variant is noteworthy because it is common in China – and therefore a large population – and has rapidly increased in frequency there in recent weeks.”

“We certainly have to assume that with the end of summer and after a period of meager case numbers, the numbers will go up again,” Neher said. “But EG.5 is not fundamentally different from other variants, but shows a gradual – but rapid – evolution, as we’ve seen for Sars-CoV-2 for some time.”

On its way to becoming the dominant variant
Globally, the spread of EG.5 has increased from 7.6 percent of reported corona cases to 17.4 percent (week 17-23 July) in four weeks since mid-June, WHO said. Because of rapid spread and more excellent immune escape, EG.5 could soon become the dominant variant in some countries or globally. Within the EG.5 variant, the EG.5.1 subline is by far the most common, he said. He said it has an additional mutation at the spike protein, which is essential for cell entry.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, EG.5 was first registered in Germany at the end of March 2023 and is currently spreading in Europe, especially the EG.5.1 subline. EG.5 was also detected in Austria as early as June.

In the statements on the dangerousness, the Institute joins the WHO. On Wednesday, the WHO upgraded the EG.5 variant to the category “virus variants of interest.” This means there are currently three variants in this group: in addition to EG.5, these are XBB.1.5 and XBB.1.16.

  • source: kleinezeitung.at/picture: pixabay.com
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