"Based on the available evidence, the public health risk posed by EG.5 is evaluated as low at the global level," the WHO said.

"We need to ensure that sequencing continues. The virus is evolving. The virus is circulating in every country, and EG.5 is one of the latest variants of interest that we're classifying. This will continue, and this is what we have to prepare for," WHO's Maria Van Kerkhove said in a press conference.

What is EG.5 or Eris?

EG.5 is a subvariant of Omicron variant and has overtaken the existing Omicron XBB strains. Ever since Eris was first detected in February, cases have been reported in 51 countries. According to estimates, 17.3% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are expected to be caused by EG.5.

Symptoms of the new variant

Symptoms of EG.5 are not very different from the other variants and it cannot be clinically identified.

The symptoms include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Change in smell and taste
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing


As with all variants of COVID-19, vaccination remains the most recommended way for prevention. Although there is no specific vaccine for the variant, experts believe all COVID-19 vaccines currently available can reduce the severity of the disease.

Adopting precautionary steps like regular handwashing and staying away from infected people also will help reduce the transmission.

Disease severity

Experts believe the variant may be highly infectious although it's not known to cause a more severe infection.

"While EG.5 has shown increased prevalence, growth advantage, and immune escape properties, there have been no reported changes in disease severity to date," the WHO said.

"It will probably cause a wave of more cases and all the problems that bring – [such as] more hospitalizations and Long Covid– but [there is] no reason at the moment to think [that will be] worse than previous waves this year," Christina Pagel, a professor of operational research at University College London, told Guardian.