The EG.5 subvariant is already in Argentina, could COVID cases increase?

The EG.5 subvariant is already in Argentina, could COVID cases increase?

The Coronavirus pandemic Continues: Over the past month, more than one million cases of people diagnosed with COVID-19 disease and More than 3,100 died patients in the world.

The virus continues to evolve and the World Health Organization considered that Ómicron EG.5 is a “variant of interest”. Popularly, it is called Eris and already detected in 51 countries. It has now also been found in a sample of a COVID patient in Argentina.

As reported to Infobae The doctor Mariana Viegas, coordinator of the Country Project – which is dedicated to genomic surveillance with support from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Argentina-, the EG.5 sublineage has already been in the country since at least last month. It has also been detected in Colombia and Ecuador and the United States, in the latter became the most prevalent among the cases detected.

“In the group of 12 samples that we sequenced last week, which come from confirmed cases last July, one corresponded to EG.5 and was from a patient from the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires (AMBA)”Viegas said. “It is not statistically significant because of the low number of samples sequenced. But today there are few tests and It’s harder to get samples for sequencing.” Added.

As of last March, sublineages of the Ómicron variant are independently classified in the WHO variant tracking system as “variants under surveillance”, “variants of interest” or “variants of concern”. EG.5 is, then, considered a variant of interest after the risk assessment made by experts from that health agency.

In the GISAID platform, 7354 sequences of Ómicron EG.5 from 51 countries. Most EG.5 sequences come from China. The other countries with at least 100 sequences are: United States of America, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal and Spain.

Globally, there was a steady increase in the proportion of EG.5 in COVID cases. During the week of July 17 to 23, the prevalence of GD.5 was 17.4%. “This is a notable increase from data reported four weeks earlier, when the overall prevalence of GD.5 was 7.6%,” WHO reported.

Based on the information available, the health agency’s experts considered that the risk to public health that raises EG.5 is assessed as “low” globally, consistent with the risk associated with XBB.1.16 and the other sublineages currently in circulation.

They also argued that “although EG.5 has shown increased prevalence, growth advantage and immune escape properties, no changes in disease severity have been recorded to date. While hospitalizations for GD.5 increased in countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea, no association has been established between these hospitalizations and EG.5.”

But WHO experts warned: “EG.5 may lead to an increase in the incidence of cases and become dominant in some countries or even globally.” It had been notified for the first time on February 17.

Symptoms of subvariant EG.5 are: sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, cough, headache and hoarse voice. It can also lead to muscle aches and an altered sense of smell. Shortness of breath and fever are less common.

“The EG.5 subvariant has an extra mutation at the ACE2 binding site and better evades antibodies by vaccine or natural infection. Both things combine to give it greater transmissibility, “he said, when asked by Infobae, The virologist Santiago Mirazo, Assistant Professor, Department of Bacteriology and Virology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of the Republic in Uruguay. “But there is no evidence that this sublineage causes greater severity or even distinctly different symptoms from others of Ómicron.”

In dialogue with InfObae, Dr. Humberto Debat, researcher in virology of the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), Member of Country Project, and winner of a Konex Award 2023 Diploma of Merit in the Pandemic – Covid19 category, commented on the subvariant: “There is a work by researchers from Japan – which was disseminated as a preprint – that show that EG.5 is not more infective than others”.

“They postulate that the increase in COVID cases in several countries could be due to a bottleneck or some detail that has yet to be tested experimentally,” the expert warned. He added: “Having had COVID recently would not provide protection against EG.5. There is also no evidence that this subvariant causes more severe cases than other recent sublineages.”

In the Argentina, the year 2023 started with more than 37,000 COVID cases in the first week. Then they dropped to less than 500 per week in July, according to Jorge Aliaga, a doctor in physics at the National University of Hurlingham, in the province of Buenos Aires, who conducts a weekly analysis of official data.

Faced with the emergence of the EG.5 sublineage, Meera Chand, deputy director of the UKHSA health agency in the United Kingdom, told the newspaper The Guardian that: “Vaccination remains our best defence against future waves of COVID-19, so it remains as important as ever that people come in to get all the doses they are entitled to as soon as possible.”

Regarding vaccination in Argentina, the Federal Health Council (COFESA) and the Ministry of Health of the Nation They recommend that people who are in high-risk groups for developing severe forms of the disease, such as people 50 years of age or older, immunocompromised, and pregnant women, receive a booster dose of the COVID vaccine.

To receive the vaccine, it must be at least 6 months since your last dose, regardless of the number of boosters you have previously received, and you must respect a minimum interval of at least 4 months since your last dose.

Also included in the medium risk group are those under 50 years of age with comorbidities (chronic diseases and/or obesity) and people at higher risk of exposure (health personnel) and strategic function. This group should receive a booster dose after 6 months of the last dose applied, followed by an annual booster.

People considered at low risk of complications, such as those younger than 50 without comorbidities, should also receive booster vaccination against COVID-19, and an annual dose is recommended.


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