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WHO Designates EG.5 Coronavirus Strain as a “Variant of Interest” for COVID-19

Accra, August 9 – WHO Designates EG.5 Coronavirus Strain as “Variant of Interest” in the United States and China, Citing No Immediate Public Health Concerns

The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially classified the EG.5 coronavirus strain, which is currently circulating in the United States and China, as a “variant of interest.” However, WHO stated that this variant does not pose an immediate threat to public health. While EG.5 has been rapidly spreading and has been identified in countries including South Korea, Japan, and Canada, the available evidence does not suggest any additional public health risks compared to other Omicron descendant lineages, according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of WHO.

Dr. Tedros emphasized the need for a more comprehensive evaluation of the potential risks posed by the EG.5 variant. He expressed concern about the lack of COVID-19 data reporting from many countries to WHO. Only 11 countries have reported hospitalizations and ICU admissions related to the virus. In response, WHO issued a set of standing recommendations, urging countries to continue reporting COVID-19 data, especially mortality and morbidity data, while maintaining vaccination efforts.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, mentioned that while EG.5 exhibits increased transmissibility, it does not appear to be more severe than other Omicron variants that have been in circulation since late 2021. She stressed the importance of data collection from various countries to effectively combat the virus.

COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, can lead to mild to moderate respiratory illness in most individuals, with recovery occurring without specialized treatment. However, certain individuals, particularly older adults and those with underlying medical conditions, are at a higher risk of developing severe illness. The global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 6.9 million people, with over 768 million confirmed cases since the virus emerged. The WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic in March 2020 and ended the global emergency status for COVID-19 in May of this year.

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