WHO classifies EG.5 as COVID-19 'variant of interest'


The World Health Organization (WHO) classified a descendant lineage of coronavirus variant XBB.1.9.2 as a "variant of interest" on Wednesday.

The variant, EG.5, first reported in February, has shown "a steady increase in the proportion," said the WHO in an initial risk evaluation of the variant, with its global prevalence to be 17.4 percent from July 17 to 23, a notable rise from 7.6 percent during June 19 to 25.

However, EG.5 did not seem to pose more of a threat to public health than other variants.

"Collectively, available evidence does not suggest that EG.5 has additional public health risks relative to the other currently circulating Omicron descendant lineages," said the WHO, adding that a more comprehensive evaluation of its risk was needed.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, said EG.5 had an increased transmissibility but was not more severe than other Omicron variants.

"We don't detect a change in severity of EG.5 compared to other sublineages of Omicron that have been in circulation since late 2021," she said.

Coronavirus variants are categorized by the WHO as variant under monitoring, variant of interest and variant of concern based on the evaluation of their transmissibility and mutation ability.

(With input from Reuters)

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