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EG.5 Variant of COVID-19 Dominant in the U.S.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified a new variant of COVID-19 known as EG.5, which has become the prevailing strain in the United States. However, the CDC’s efforts to monitor the spread of this variant are being hindered by a lack of sufficient data.

Due to insufficient sequences available for analysis, the CDC has been unable to release its “Nowcast” projections, which provide information on the circulation of EG.5 and other variants in different regions across the country. CDC representative Kathleen Conley explained that accurate predictions require a certain number of sequences, and in some regions, the limited availability of sequences has prevented the publication of nowcast estimates. Despite this limitation, these regions are still included in the overall national nowcast.

It is estimated that EG.5, a subvariant of the Omicron variant, accounted for 17.3% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. during a two-week period ending on August 5th. This percentage represents an increase from the previous period’s estimate of 11.9% and surpasses all other variants.

However, it is important to note that these estimates are based on sequencing data from only three regions: Region 2 encompassing New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Region 4 consisting of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee; and Region 9 including Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau.

COVID Variant Update

According to recent data, the most common variants of COVID-19 are XBB.1.16, accounting for 15.6% of cases, and XBB.2.3, accounting for 11.2% of cases.

These variants are subvariants of XBB, which will be the focus of COVID vaccines in the upcoming fall.

One of the notable variants, nicknamed “Eris” by Twitter users, is EG.5. Its symptoms are similar to the early variants and it is not considered to be more deadly. However, it might possibly be more contagious, as has been the trend with new strains. Symptoms of EG.5 include cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, and a loss of taste or smell.

In recent weeks, the prevalence of EG.5 has increased globally from 62% to 11.6% as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) in their weekly epidemiological update.

Currently, EG.5 is classified as a variant under monitoring (VUM) by the WHO, which means it is not as concerning as a variant of interest (VOI).

The WHO is closely monitoring two VOIs: XBB.1.5 and XBB.1.6.

Furthermore, there are seven VUMs being tracked along with their descendant lineages: BA.2.75, CH.1.1, XBB, XBB.1.9.1, XBB.1.9.2, XBB.2.3, and EG.5.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that hospital admissions for COVID have started to rise again in July after a period of stability or decline. However, the number of deaths continues to decrease, with 81.4% of the overall population in the U.S. having received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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