COVID Cases Rising with New Subvariant

COVID cases are on the rise again and the new variant nicknamed Eris is one of the main reasons why.

Eris now accounts for the largest portion of new COVID infections across America. About 17 percent of U.S. COVID cases are believed to have been caused by the variant, formally known as EG.5, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC states that in early August, COVID cases were more than seven percent higher than it was in early July.

Eris is one of several closely related Omicron sub-variants that have dominated for the past few months. All of these variants are descendants of the XBB strain, which is the target of this fall’s COVID shots.

“While the emergency of COVID has been lifted and we’re no longer in a crisis phase, the threat of COVID is not gone. So, keeping up with surveillance and sequencing remains absolutely critical,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for COVID, said in a statement last month.

Black people have been impacted disproportionately by COVID. Overall, racial and ethnic minorities in the United States have had higher rates of infection, hospital stays and death caused by the COVID-19 virus than white, non-Hispanic people. Black people have died at 1.4 times the rate of white people, according to data from the COVID Tracking project.

Other dominant variants include XBB.1.16, with 15.6% of cases, and XBB.2.23, with 11 percent of cases, CDC data show. Another ten percent of COVID cases are from XBB., while eight percent of cases were caused by an XBB-related variant known as FL.1.5.1.

Experts say EG.5 might be beating out other variants because it appears to have a “slightly beneficial mutation,” CBS News reported.

Because the CDC has slowed its tracking of COVID variants, it was not able to project EG.5’s emergence until now since only California, Georgia and New York have had enough sequences to update national data, CDC officials said.

“Because Nowcast is modeled data, we need a certain number of sequences to accurately predict proportions in the present,” CDC spokesperson Kathleen Conley told CBS News. “For some regions, we have limited numbers of sequences available, and therefore are not displaying Nowcast estimates in those regions, though those regions are still being used in the aggregated national Nowcast.”


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