18 Aug 2023 15:52

Eris unlikely to trigger new Covid-19 wave in Russia - expert

MOSCOW. Aug 18 (Interfax) - The new Covid-19 variant sub-lineage, EG.5.1, commonly known as Eris, does not differ significantly from its predecessors, resembles an acute respiratory viral infection, and is unlikely to trigger a new Covid-19 wave in Russia, Alexander Gorelov, deputy director for science at the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor)'s Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, has told Interfax.

"It does not differ much from related respiratory viruses. It is no more severe than an acute respiratory viral infection and does not have any special symptoms. All of this allows us to presume that there will not be a new wave of infections for now. There will be a regular seasonal spike in infections, which happens every year at the end of summer [and] early fall. This is a completely expected and predictable situation," Gorelov said.

Eris is an Omicron variant sub-lineage, so people "already have cross-immunity one way or another," Gorelov said. Unlike some other variants, it has the ability to elude antibodies produced by vaccines or previous COVID-19 infection. "This is only natural. We know that the prevailing variant changes every eight to nine months and acquires new characteristics, which give it an advantage," he said.

Russia recorded its first Eris infections in spring, but it has not become the prevailing strain, Gorelov said.

Rospotrebnadzor's recommendations for Covid-19 therefore remain unchanged, Gorelov said. "People should take regular precautions: wear personal protection, stay home and call a doctor whenever you feel unwell. This especially concerns senior citizens and people with chronic conditions," he said.

According to the coronavirus response headquarters, the Covid-19 incidence rate in Russia went up 1.9% between August 7 and 13.

Western media outlets said earlier that healthcare experts had warned about a potential new Covid-19 wave in the UK triggered by Eris and had suggested wearing masks once again.

Rospotrebnadzor said on August 10 that Eris is characterized by greater contagiousness and the ability to overcome immunity. It has not yet spread widely in Russia, but could complicate the epidemiological situation. It also said that Russia has recorded 17 cases of the Eris variant to date.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has added the EG.5 (Eris) variant sub-lineage to its list of variants under observation.