Emerging Threat: Eris, the Fast-Spreading COVID-19 Variant, Surges Across the UK

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UK (Parliament Politic Magazine) – A novel strain of COVID-19, referred to as Eris and scientifically labeled as EG.5.1, is rapidly spreading throughout the United Kingdom. This variant, a sub-variant of Omicron, has been officially identified and declared by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). Astonishingly, Eris now constitutes one out of every seven new COVID cases in the UK, positioning it as the second most prevalent variant in the nation.

Eris Variant Growing Rapidly Across UK

The Eris variant, aptly named after the Greek goddess associated with discord and strife, has exhibited a remarkable growth advantage over other strains. UKHSA authorities assert that it already possesses a 20.5 percent growth advantage. However, it is crucial to note that experts stress there is currently no evidence to suggest that Eris is more perilous or leads to more severe illness compared to previous variants.

“EG.5.1 was initially identified as a potential concern during monitoring on July 3, 2023, as part of our ongoing efforts to stay ahead of emerging trends, particularly in Asia,” stated the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

“Due to the growing number of genomes in the UK data and its continued spread globally, it was subsequently upgraded from a monitoring signal to a designated variant V-23 JUL-01 on July 31, 2023. This classification as a variant will enable us to conduct more comprehensive analysis and characterization,” the agency further explained.

Surge In COVID-19 Cases In The UK Due To Various Factors

Interestingly, the surge in COVID-19 cases in the UK can be attributed to various factors. These include diminishing immunity from previous vaccinations or infections, increased indoor gatherings due to inclement weather, and even the release of highly anticipated movies like Barbie and Oppenheimer, which have enticed large crowds to flock to cinemas.

Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases, hospital admission rates remain relatively low, especially among younger age groups. However, there has been a slight increase in hospital admissions among the elderly, prompting health authorities to closely monitor these rates.

A High Percentage Of Infections Resulting As Eris

Out of the 4,396 respiratory specimens reported through the UKHSA’s Respiratory DataMart System, 5.4 percent were identified as COVID-19. This is compared to 3.7 percent from the previous report, which consisted of 4,403 specimens.

“We are witnessing a continuous rise in COVID-19 cases in this week’s report. Additionally, there has been a slight increase in hospital admission rates across most age groups, particularly among the elderly. It is important to note that overall admission levels still remain extremely low, and we have not observed a similar increase in ICU admissions at this time. We will continue to closely monitor these rates,” stated Dr. Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA.

Increasing Number Of Eris Cases

In light of the increasing number of cases, health experts have emphasized the significance of regular handwashing, reducing social interactions when symptoms are present, and ensuring proper ventilation in indoor spaces. Additionally, the NHS is making preparations for another booster jab rollout scheduled for the autumn of 2023.

While the Eris variant is currently causing concern in the UK, it is important to note that the prevailing variant nationwide remains XBB.1.16, commonly known as Arcturus. This particular variant, classified as a variant under monitoring by the WHO since March 22, continues to be the most prevalent strain, accounting for 39.4 percent of all cases in the UK.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has revealed that EG.5.1, also known as Eris, is responsible for one in seven new COVID cases. According to a report by Sky News, the latest data indicates that Eris now accounts for 14.6% of cases, making it the second most prevalent variant in the UK.

Read More: UK Welcoming Growing Trend of Healthcare Services in Retail Spaces

Eris Officially Classified As COVID 19

In comparison to our previous report, the number of COVID-19 cases has continued to rise this week. The UKHSA stated that out of 4,396 respiratory specimens reported through the Respiratory DataMart System, 5.4% were identified as COVID-19. This is an increase from the previous report, which recorded 3.7% out of 4,403 specimens.

Eris was officially classified as a variant on July 31st after its prevalence was observed both domestically and internationally, particularly in Asia. The World Health Organization (WHO) began monitoring the EG.5.1 variant a little over two weeks ago, following a statement by WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He emphasized that while vaccines and prior infection offer better protection, countries should remain vigilant and not lower their guard.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.