An expert at the University of Basel in Switzerland said that the new coronavirus variant "EG.5" - which scientists call "Eris" - is spreading around the world, but it is not very dangerous.
Richard Nehr, who is head of a research group studying the evolution of viruses and bacteria, added: "In my estimation, EG5 does not pose a particular risk.
Nehr explained that the variant does contain a mutation that may make it escape the immune system somewhat more easily, "but the same mutation is also found in other variants."
"EG5 is not fundamentally different from other variants, but it shows rapid gradual evolution, as we have seen with SARS for some time."
The World Health Organization wrote a few days ago that the risk posed by the EG5 variant to public health is low, according to currently available information. It said it was similar to the threat posed by the XP1 virus. 16 " and some other variants that are currently prevalent.
EG5 spreads remarkably quickly and can easily escape the immune system. However, the severity of the disease is constant compared to other current variants.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced an increase in global EG5 prevalence, from 7.6% of recorded COVID-19 cases to 17.4% in the four-week period since mid-June. EG5 could soon become the dominant variant in some countries, or even globally.
EG5 was first recorded in Germany at the end of March, according to the Robert Koch Institute for Disease Control, and is still spreading there. The institute agrees with the World Health Organization in its estimates of the strength of the strain.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization modified the EG5 virus to the category of "variants of interest." There are also three other variants now in this category, including: XP1. 5" and "XP1 . 16".
Covid is back in the summer
In France and other countries, talk of COVID-19 is returning in the summer, with a rise in infections that warrants vigilance, although it has not reached high levels.
He also reported a new outbreak in the United States, Britain, India and Japan.
Visits to France's emergency departments for suspected COVID-19 in the week of July 31 to August 6 increased by 31% compared to the previous week, with 920 cases recorded, according to official data.
The World Health Organization said on Friday that the number of cases monitored globally rose by 80% within a month, with one and a half million additional infections from the tenth of last July, until the sixth of August.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said last Wednesday during a press conference that although the organization no longer considers the epidemic a global health emergency since the beginning of last May, "the virus continues to spread in all countries, and continues to kill and change."
The EG5 variant is currently the most detected because it may be behind the resurgence of the epidemic. Experts believe that summer gatherings and declining immunity levels may play a role in the return of the epidemic as well.
This variant of Omicron appears to be more transmissible than others, possibly due to the influence of new genetic mutations, and may be better able to bypass immune defenses.
At this stage, "the available evidence does not suggest that EG5 poses additional public health risks, compared to other circulating variants of the Omicron strain," according to the World Health Organization.
But Tedros said the threat of a more serious variant remains, leading to a sudden increase in infections and deaths.
Monitoring the evolution of the epidemic is more complicated by a lack of data since the number of tests has decreased and follow-up measures have been suspended.
Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, believes that "the situation of the epidemic is very uncertain all over the world." "It is essential that health authorities redeploy a reliable health system to monitor Covid," he said, calling for wastewater analyses in Europe, in particular.
Over time and waves, the impact of Covid, as well as the number of people needing hospitalization, and the number of deaths have diminished considerably, thanks to a high level of immunity acquired through vaccination or infection, but it has not disappeared.
Antoine Flahault wondered whether immunocompromised people and the elderly would be required to get tested if symptoms appeared, even if they were small, so that they could benefit from early antiviral treatments that were effective to reduce the risk of serious forms.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization urged "stepping up efforts to increase vaccination." While COVID vaccines lose their effectiveness against infection over time, they are still very protective against dangerous forms.