In the wake of the emergence of the EG.5 variant, a subtype of the Omicron strain, nations around the world are grappling with a surge in Covid cases. India, too, has encountered this variant since May 2023, as confirmed by government sources. Initially detected in Maharashtra, the variant’s trajectory within the country has stirred a mix of cautious observation and steady confidence.
Despite its presence, the EG.5 variant has not yet sparked alarm bells in India. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has categorized this SARS-CoV-2 variant as a “variant of interest”. However, the WHO’s assessment suggests that the strain does not inherently pose a greater threat to public health compared to its counterparts. Dr. NK Arora, Head of the government’s Covid Advisory Task Group, expressed assurance, stating, “It is not of concern at all. It has been there in India for over three months, and there has been no upsurge of cases or hospitalization.”
Dr. Arora highlighted the effectiveness of genomic surveillance in promptly identifying any novel variants that might arise. This proactive approach aims to ensure a swift response to evolving circumstances. Dr. Akshay Budhraja, Senior Consultant in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at Aakash Healthcare, conveyed the essence of the EG.5 variant, explaining that it inherits heightened transmissibility compared to previous iterations, thereby warranting its classification as a variant of interest.
He elaborated, “EG.5 has the potential to undermine existing immunity against Covid, leading to a surge in infections. The implications, if unchecked, could extend to increased mortality and morbidity rates.”
In light of this situation, health experts advocate adhering to Covid-appropriate behaviors when experiencing flu-like symptoms and actively seeking testing. By maintaining vigilance and adopting preventive measures, individuals can contribute to curbing the potential impact of this evolving variant on public health.
As the global battle against the Covid pandemic evolves, staying informed and staying prepared remain critical cornerstones of our collective defense.