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New COVID Variant Eris Sweeps The UK

The variant is now responsible for one in seven UK cases.


Maddy Chapman


Maddy Chapman

Copy Editor and Staff Writer

Maddy is a Copy Editor and Staff Writer at IFLScience, with a degree in biochemistry from the University of York.

Copy Editor and Staff Writer

COVID-19 Omicron variant

Eris is a subvariant of Omicron.

Image credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/

Eris – a new COVID variant – is emerging in the UK amid a nationwide rise in cases and hospital admissions.

First classified as a variant last month, Eris, or EG.5.1, is a subvariant of Omicron and has since been added to the World Health Organization’s “variants under monitoring” list. According to data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), as of July 20, it comprised 14.55 percent of all UK cases, with a weekly growth rate of 20.51 percent.


In the US, meanwhile, Eris was responsible for 17.3 percent of all COVID-19 cases between July 23 and August 5 and is now the most prevalent variant, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, it is not unusual to see new variants emerging, and there is currently no evidence to suggest that this strain is any more dangerous than those that have come before it.

Still, this comes as the UK faces an uptick in cases, with hospital admissions increasing to 1.97 per 100,000 of the population in the last week of July.

“We continue to see a rise in COVID-19 cases in this week’s report. We have also seen a small rise in hospital admission rates in most age groups, particularly among the elderly,” Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at the UKHSA, said in a statement.


“Overall levels of admission still remain extremely low and we are not currently seeing a similar increase in ICU admissions,” Ramsay added.

Current hotspots include the South West of England, as well as Surrey, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Darlington, and Cumbria, The Independent reports.

The UKHSA will continue to monitor the situation, and in the meantime, Ramsay recommends vaccination as the best means of protection against this and other COVID variants.

“The NHS will be in contact in autumn 2023 when the seasonal vaccine is available for those who are eligible due to health conditions or age, and we urge everyone who is offered to take up the vaccine when offered.”


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