The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the EG.5 coronavirus strain as a "variant of interest." However, the organization has stated that it does not appear to pose a greater threat to public health than other variants. This particular variant has been spreading rapidly and is currently the most prevalent in the United States, accounting for over 17% of cases. It has also been detected in other countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, and Canada.
In its risk evaluation, the WHO stated that the available evidence does not suggest that the EG.5 variant has additional public health risks compared to other Omicron descendent lineages. However, the organization did note that a more comprehensive evaluation of the variant's risk is needed.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, mentioned that the EG.5 variant is more transmissible but not more severe than other Omicron variants that have been circulating since late 2021.
Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed concern over the lack of COVID-19 data reporting by many countries to the WHO. He stated that only 11% of countries have reported hospitalizations and ICU admissions related to the virus. In response, the WHO issued a set of standing recommendations for COVID-19, urging countries to continue reporting data, particularly mortality and morbidity data, as well as to maintain vaccination efforts.
Van Kerkhove emphasized that the absence of data from many countries is hindering global efforts to combat the virus. She noted that a year ago, the situation was more favorable in terms of anticipating and responding to the virus, whereas now there is a growing delay and declining ability to do so.
Since the emergence of the virus, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 6.9 million people globally, with more than 768 million confirmed cases. The WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic in March 2020 and ended the global emergency status for COVID-19 in May 2021.