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Hospitalisations down despite prevalence of Covid-19 Omicron variant ‘Eris’

Eris, an ancestor of Omicron, has already surpassed all other coronavirus sub-variants in the number of infections worldwide. Picture: Pexels

Eris, an ancestor of Omicron, has already surpassed all other coronavirus sub-variants in the number of infections worldwide. Picture: Pexels

Published Oct 11, 2023


Every virus undergoes gradual evolution, including Covid-19's causative agent, Sars-CoV-2. Most alterations hardly, if ever, affect the virus’s characteristics.

These characteristics, such as how quickly it spreads, the severity of the accompanying sickness, or the effectiveness of vaccines, therapeutic drugs, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures, could be impacted by certain alterations.

With a focus on Sars-CoV-2 variations, their phenotype, and their effect on countermeasures, the World Health Organization (WHO) Virus Evolution Working Group was founded in June 2020.

The Technical Advisory Group on Sars-CoV-2 Virus Evolution was later formed from this.

To prioritise global monitoring and research, as well as to educate and modify the Covid-19 response, WHO classified some variants as variants of interest (VOIs) and variants of concern (VOCs) in late 2020 as a result of the development of variants that posed an increased risk to global public health.

WHO started giving important variants straightforward, easy-to-say labelling in May 2021.

A lot of effort has been made in building and strengthening a global system that can quickly assess the risk that Sars-CoV-2 variants pose to the public health by detecting signals of probable VOIs or VOCs.

As Sars-CoV-2 continues to spread widely over the world, it is crucial that these systems are kept up to date and that data is transmitted appropriately and promptly.

As part of the global plan to lessen the development of mutations that have detrimental effects on public health, it is necessary to continue monitoring the transmission of Sars-CoV-2 in animal populations and among chronically infected people.

WHO revised its working definitions for VOIs, VOCs and variants under surveillance in March this year. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Covid-19 variant EG.5 continued to be the main cause of infections worldwide, accounting for close to 30% of all cases during the week ending September 30.

The Omicron branch EG.5, often known as “Eris”, has been the predominant variety for weeks. With 13.7% of cases, the so-called “Fornax” (FL.1.5.1) variety continues to be the second-most prevalent strain.

A still-rare variety, known as the severely mutated BA.2.86 (“Pirola”), has been causing alarm, but new data indicates that it is considerably less contagious than EG.5. ‎

According to the CDC Covid Data Tracker, hospital admissions attributable to Covid-19 for the week ending September 23 fell by around 3% nationally compared to the week prior, with over 19 000 new patients being admitted.

After nine weeks of climbing rates, hospitalisations are now falling for the second consecutive week.

However, Covid-19-related deaths increased somewhat, up 8% from the previous week.

Results of positive Covid-19 tests are starting to decline. According to the CDC’s most recent statistics, the test positivity rate was 11.6% as of September 23. This represents a 1.1%% drop from the previous week.

Although Covid-19 undoubtedly seems to be spreading, unlike previously in the pandemic, it isn’t inflicting a significant number of people with serious sickness.

According to the CDC, despite a rise in hospitalisations, rates are remain low across much of the nation. In the most recent CDC information, Covid-19 was responsible for 2.7% of all fatalities in the nation.

According to research by Healthline, human diseases (like the Covid virus) typically evolve so that they may move from person to person more easily, suggesting that there is not a significant survival advantage for them to be more deadly.

It added that data suggests immunisation may be preventing many serious illnesses, hospital stays, and fatalities. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, updated immunisations ought to protect against current coronavirus strains.

The CDC emphasises that certain populations are more vulnerable to developing severe Covid-19 illness. The likelihood that an adult over the age of 50 will require hospitalisation, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe is higher. Most Covid-related fatalities involve adults over 65.

According to the CDC, people who are immunocompromised (have a weaker immune system) due to a medical condition or because of immunosuppressive drugs or therapies also have a higher risk of developing serious illness.

This risk is further increased by underlying medical disorders such obesity, chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder, and heart disease.

Pregnant women and those who have recently given birth are another group with reduced virus defences who can get quite ill from illnesses.

When the number of hospital admissions in a community is medium or higher, public health authorities encourage those who are at higher risk to speak with a health-care practitioner about taking extra precautions, like donning a mask.