In recent weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a rise in COVID infections caused by two new variants. On the one hand, “Eris” or EG.5, which was originally discovered in China and the United States, although it has also been reported in several European countries such as Spain.
The symptoms are similar to those of previously recorded variants. These include sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, cough and fever. As for its characteristics, it has an additional F456L mutation in the spike protein, an aspect that distinguishes it from its predecessors such as octopuses, as evolutionary biologist Ryan Gregory explained days ago.
On the other hand, there is the “Pirola” variant, cataloged as the Ómicron sublineage and discovered for the first time worldwide on August 13th. This variant was declared an “emergency variant” by the WHO last week and has more than 30 amino acid changes in its spike protein compared to its closest ancestor, the “Ómicron” subvariant BA.2.
The illness, identified in countries such as Denmark, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, includes fever, nasal congestion, loss of taste and smell, cough, sore throat, headache and fatigue. Biologist T. Ryan Gregory from the Department of Integrated Biology at the Canadian University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, stated on his social networks that “there is no way to know about the specific symptoms of this variant.”
“No changes in severity were noted”
Despite this increase in coronavirus infections reported in various countries, the WHO explained that the new Eris and Pirola variants are characterized by not causing serious symptoms. “Although EG.5 has shown increased prevalence, growth benefits and immune escape properties, no changes in disease severity have been recorded to date.”
Likewise, the WHO classified both variants as “under surveillance” variants, a designation that urges countries to monitor and report any sequences discovered. In addition, the United Nations (UN) organization noted that it is still “premature” to draw conclusions about the severity and/or transmissibility of the registered variants.