WHO Designates EG.5 Covid-19 Variant as ‘Variant of Concern’

The World Health Organization (WHO) has elevated the EG.5 strain of the Covid-19 virus to the status of a ‘variant of concern’ after initially categorizing it as a variant of interest. This sub-variant of the omicron lineage, known as EG.5, has shown increased prevalence and immune escape properties, contributing to 17% of new cases in the US. Despite this, there is no evidence of heightened severity or risks associated with EG.5 compared to previous variants. WHO recommends global information sharing about its characteristics and sequence. The organization evaluates variant impacts on vaccine performance to guide decisions on vaccine updates.

Important Notes:

What is a variant of concern?

Variants of concern are specific strains of a virus, like Covid-19, that exhibit changes in characteristics such as transmissibility, severity, or vaccine resistance. They are closely monitored due to their potential impact on public health.

What is World Health Organization (WHO)?

The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. It plays a crucial role in coordinating global health responses, disease surveillance, and providing guidance on health-related matters. WHO’s global office is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

What is omicron?

Omicron is a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, responsible for causing Covid-19. It gained attention due to its numerous mutations and potential implications for transmissibility and vaccine effectiveness.

Where has EG.5 been prevalent?

EG.5 has become more prevalent in the United States, accounting for about 17% of new Covid-19 cases. Its prevalence has increased from 1% at the end of May, raising concerns about its impact.

What is immune escape?

Immune escape refers to a variant’s ability to evade the immune response generated by previous infections or vaccinations. This can impact the effectiveness of existing immunity and potentially lead to reinfections.

What is the role of the Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC)?

TAG-CO-VAC is a group that assists the WHO in assessing how variants of the virus might affect the performance of existing Covid-19 vaccines. This information guides decisions about adjusting vaccine compositions to maintain effectiveness.


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