The United States is currently experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases during the summer months, largely attributed to the rapid spread of the highly contagious Eris subvariant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported an almost 22% surge in hospital admissions linked to COVID-19, along with a 21% increase in virus-related deaths.
Eris, scientifically labeled as EG.5, has become the predominant strain responsible for new COVID-19 infections in the nation. This subvariant belongs to the omicron lineage and is descended from the XBB sublineage, both of which have been dominant strains over the past year.
According to CDC data, EG.5 now constitutes 20.6% of newly reported COVID-19 cases during the two-week period ending on August 18. This marks a significant rise from the 7.5% reported in the initial week of July. The second most prevalent variant, FL.1.5.1, accounts for around 13% of cases, while XBB.1.16 makes up just under 11%.
The symptoms associated with Eris are akin to those observed in previous strains of the virus and do not appear to be more severe. However, similar to earlier omicron variants, Eris remains highly transmissible.
Common symptoms to be vigilant about include:
- Persistent cough
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Net loss of taste or smell
Although the symptoms of Eris resemble those of earlier strains, health experts caution that EG.5 appears to have an increased ability to evade antibodies developed from prior infections or vaccinations. While there is currently no specific vaccine targeting Eris, it is anticipated that the booster shots set to be available in the upcoming fall will offer some degree of protection against this subvariant.