Same Old Playbook: Health Experts Sound Alarm on New COVID Variant EG.5 Just In Time for the Next Election

Another fear porn from the so-called health experts just in time for the next election. The same old playbook.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday classified the EG.5 coronavirus strain circulating in the United States and China as a “variant of interest” but stressed it did not seem to pose more of a threat to public health than other variants. Despite the message from WHO, some health experts are sounding the alarm.

“As of 7 August 2023, 7354 sequences of Omicron EG.5 have been submitted to GISAID from 51 countries. The largest portion of EG.5 sequences are from China (30.6%, 2247 sequences). The other countries with at least 100 sequences are the United States of America (18.4%, 1356 sequences), the Republic of Korea (14.1%, 1040 sequences), Japan (11.1%, 814 sequences), Canada (5.3%, 392 sequences), Australia (2.1%, 158 sequences), Singapore (2.1%, 154 sequences), the United Kingdom (2.0%, 150 sequences), France (1.6%,119 sequences), Portugal (1.6%, 115 sequences), and Spain (1.5%, 107 sequences),” according to WHO.

EG.5, a subvariant of omicron and descendant of the XBB strain, has been circulating in the country since at least April. However, as of Aug. 5, it reportedly accounts for 17.3% of COVID infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the United Kingdom, EG.5.1, a variant under the EG.5 lineage, makes up an estimated 14.55% of cases. This makes it the second most common strain, according to the UK Health Security Agency, according to ABC News.

However, so-called health experts have emphasized that there is no evidence to suggest that EG.5 causes more severe illness. They claimed that it’s a natural occurrence for viruses to mutate and for new variants to emerge.

“Omicron is out there making minor variations. It’s having children, progeny, but they’re all closely related to omicron,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News. “They are contagious, but they are not more serious, so that’s excellent.”

“If you take a low number and you talk about it in terms of percent increase, it’s going to sound a lot scarier than it is, right?” Dr. Shira Doron, chief infection control officer for Tufts Medicine, told ABC News. “So, in an extreme circumstance, if there was one COVID case in the world and then there were two, that would be 100% increase, which sounds really bad, but two is a pretty low number.”

More from CNN:

Topol says this fall’s updated Covid-19 booster, which will be targeted against the XBB variant, should be a very close match to the variants circulating now, including EG.5, and he expects that it will convey strong protection — if regulatory agencies can get it to people in time.

Vaccine manufacturers have said they expect to have the updated shots ready in a few weeks, but CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen has projected that the updated vaccine will be available in October, since it will need sign-off from the US Food and Drug Administration and a recommendation from the CDC.

That would be full month later than boosters were available last fall.

“Why is this taking so long?” Topol said. “The whole idea of mRNA is that it would you could pivot quickly and within a couple of months, you’d have it ready.”

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