World Health Organization declared the novel dominant strain of Covid-19, EG.5, as a “variant of interest,” but said it did not seem to pose more of a threat to public health than other variants, in a report released on Wednesday.
The initial risk evaluation report by WHO also confirms that as of August 7, at least 5.3% (or 392) of world’s total EG.5 cases were from Canada.
In a report released last month, Public Health Ontario said that the proportion of COVID cases attributed to the EG.5 variant increased from 5.2 per cent in early July to 12.7 per cent by the middle of the month, and were estimated to jump to 35 per cent of cases by the beginning of August.
In recent weeks, the United States has also seen a spike in cases and hospitalizations relating to EG.5, while China notes the highest number of cases relating to the subvariant. The WHO said Japan and the Republic of Korea have also observed a rise in the variant’s cases and, though “no associations” have been made yet between the subvariant and hospitalization rates.
The WHO maintained that the variant was not more dangerous than the Omicron variant. “Collectively, available evidence does not suggest that EG.5 has additional public health risks relative to the other currently circulating Omicron descendent lineages,” the WHO said in the report.
In an emailed statement, the Public Health Agency of Canada said that while the subvariant has been spreading across Canadian provinces, Current COVID levels are “low to moderate” in all provinces and territories, with most reporting “stable or increasing trends.”
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization also maintains its vaccine protocols for Fall 2023, which includes a dose of the new formulation of COVID-19 vaccine for previously vaccinated individuals. The recommendations extend particularly to citizens over 65 years of age and those with underlying medical conditions.