The Most Common Symptoms of the New COVID Variant Eris

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The COVID-19 variant Eris is now the most dominant in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization states that we'll likely see an uptick in COVID-19 cases thanks to this bad boy, also called EG.5. Find out what you need to know about the COVID EG.5 variant, including symptoms, severity, whether or not it's more transmissible, and how to protect yourself.

Related: The Subtle, Painful Sign You May Have COVID

What is the new COVID variant?

The newest COVID-19 variant of concern for many is EG.5, commonly called Eris. It's a descendant of the prior variant XBB.1.9.2, which shares an amino spike profile with XBB.1.5, an omicron variant.

Related: How to Tell If It's a COVID Headache

Is this Eris variant more contagious?

According to the World Health Organization, the Eris variant may be more transmissible than other COVID-19 variants right now. This is in part because it may evade immunity offered by previous COVID infections, as well as the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters currently and previously offered. What's more, there has been a staggering drop in the amount of COVID testing since 2022, so the rates may well be higher than what's being reported.

What also makes this variant a little tricky is that many COVID symptoms, especially in milder cases, mimic those of seasonal allergies like hay fever, so people may not even realize they're infected—and inadvertently end up getting others sick.

Related: Is Your Brain Fog From Long COVID?

Is the Eris variant more severe?

The World Health Organization states that those who aren't at high risk for COVID-19 complications shouldn't necessarily worry more about the Eris variant than they do about others, noting, "the public health risk posed by EG.5 is evaluated as low at the global level."

Of course, long COVID is still a risk for everyone who gets infected—to those who are immune-compromised or have other concurrent or pre-existing conditions, the health risk is higher—and it's important that we remember, recognize and accommodate these individuals.

Related: How to Reduce Your Long COVID Risk

What are the symptoms of the Eris variant?

Like other COVID-19 variants, early symptoms of the Eris variant may include:

Related: Long COVID Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

As the illness progresses, symptoms may worsen and cause the following symptoms—in which case you need to seek medical help immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath

  • Inability to stay awake

  • Chest pain or pressure

  • Pale, blue or gray coloration to the skin, lips or nailbeds

If you have pre-existing conditions and exhibit any COVID-19 Eris variant symptoms, seek medical attention.

Related: COVID Symptoms and What They're Like Day By Day

Can COVID-19 tests detect the Eris variant?

Phew, yep! COVID-19 tests should pick up on EG.5.

Related: How Well Do Rapid Tests Really Work for COVID-19?

Will I need a COVID-19 booster for the Eris variant?

In a word: Probably—but it's unclear when that will be available.

The FDA recommended that vaccine manufacturers update their COVID boosters for the upcoming fall and winter season to target newer variants. These updated boosters aren't yet available, but reports suggest that Pfizer may have a new shot ready as soon as the end of August. These boosters won't actually be for the Eris variant, but for the omicron XBB.1.5 strain—but experts say that the Eris variant is close enough to the XBB.1.5 strain that you'll see likely some protection from the updated boosters.

Related: How to Maximize the Efficacy of Your COVID Vaccine

How to protect yourself from the Eris variant

Your toolkit to protect yourself from the COVID-19 Eris variant is the same as with others—including measures many have stopped completely assuming the pandemic is over. (It's not, especially not for those with compromised immune systems!) The best ways to stay safe, as well as to protect others, include:

  • Regular COVID testing

  • Staying home when ill

  • Avoiding sick people

  • Being up to date on your COVID vaccines and boosters

  • Wearing an N95 or KN95 mask that is fitted properly to your face when indoors or in crowded spaces

  • Frequent handwashing

  • Improving ventilation

  • Avoiding indoor crowded spaces if you feel ill

  • Covering your mouth if and when you sneeze or cough

Next, What to Eat When You Have COVID