Eris: What is the new Covid variant, and what are the symptoms?

Eris: What is the new Covid variant, and what are the symptoms?

Vaccine manufacturer Moderna has said it has updated its Covid-19 jab to be effective against the Eris variant that is growing in prominence.

The company has reportedly said its updated innoculation will be ready for the autumn in the US and Europe, and that it will be effective against the new strain of Omicron known as EG.5.1.

But it is not the only vaccine that is being lined up for battle against Eris.

Pfizer has also reported that its updated Covid-19 shot, co-developed with BioNTech, showed neutralising activity against the Eris subvariant in a study conducted on mice.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now said that Eris is a “varient of interest” but what does it all mean?

What is the Eris variant?

Eris is the EG.5.1 strain of the virus and is a variant of Omicron.

The WHO message means it should be more closely watched than others because of mutations that might make it more contagious or severe.

Estimated Covid numbers jumped by almost 200,000 last month, from 606,656 predicted cases on July 4 to 785,980 on July 27, according to The Zoe Health Study, which estimates figures for UK Covid infections.

It now makes up around one in seven cases detected by hospital tests and is coming to the fore as other variants are left behind in their case numbers.

According to WHO officials, Eris does not appear to be causing more severe illnesses, although it does appear to be able to evade our immune systems more easily.

“It clearly has some kind of advantage over the others,” said Rowland Kao of the University of Edinburgh.

“But [it will be] nowhere near anything as dramatic as the outbreak of Omicron,” he told Euronews.

What are the symptoms of Eris?

The five most common symptoms of the strain are:

  • Runny nose

  • Headache

  • Fatigue (mild or severe)

  • Sneezing

  • Sore throat

It appears symptoms of EG.5 appear are similar to other variants.

Is Eris in the UK?

The virus type was originally mostly seen in Asia but has been spreading more into Europe recently.

Independent Sage member Prof Christina Pagel said she believes the UK is at risk of Omicron subvariants, Arcturus and Eris, due to waning immunity and poor weather. She told The Independent that she thinks the UK is “definitely starting another wave”.

She added: “The wet weather over the last few weeks probably isn’t helping either as it keeps people inside.”

Pagel has also said that there is a possibility that the spread of the variant may slow down over the summer holidays with schools closed and people going on holiday.

“It is likely to be dominant by September when kids return to school and adults to work or university, plus we start spending much more time inside,” she added.

Meanwhile, the head of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, Professor Azeem Majeed, has a different opinion about the Eris variant concerns.

“I don’t feel that people should be unduly worried by the recent increase in Covid-19 cases. Case numbers will fluctuate and there will be periods when the number of cases in the UK increases,” he told The Independent.