Eris: New Covid variant on the rise in Britain

It has become the second most prevalent strain of the virus in the country

The UK Health Security Agency blames a waning immunity and bad summer weather for the latest Covid outbreak. PA
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A new Covid variant is emerging across the UK related to the highly contagious Omicron mutation.

The Eris variant, also called EG. 5.1, is behind a spike in cases in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Scientists at the UK Health Security Agency blamed a combination of waning immunity and bad summer weather for the outbreak.

Eris was first identified as a variant in the UK in late July and accounts for one in 10 Covid cases in the country.

It has become the second most prevalent variant in Britain after Arcturus, which makes up 39.4 per cent of Covid infections, according to the UK HSA.

As the Omicron mutation continues to evolve, the original strain of the virus that causes Covid-19 can no longer be detected in humans, scientists have said.

The Alpha and Delta mutations that worsened the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 also appear to be extinct, supplanted by subtypes of the Omicron strain that now account for most of the world’s cases.

Eris is one of the fastest-growing variants worldwide thanks to what is believed to be a slightly beneficial mutation that is helping it to outcompete its rivals.

It is one of several Omicron subvariants that have been spreading globally in recent months.

The Zoe health study, where people log their symptoms, estimates that 808,140 people in Britain have symptomatic Covid.

It says there are 64,596 new daily cases – a figure which has been rising since the start of July.

Zoe said the virus is spreading fastest in Northern Ireland, but that there are also cases in England, Scotland and Wales,

Health experts warned on Monday that the UK lacks proper information about a potential resurgence of Covid this autumn.

Data from the UK HSA showed that 5.4 per cent of people suffering from a respiratory illness in the last week were found to have Covid, up from 3.7 per cent the week before.

Hospital admission rates are at 1.97 per 100,000 population, an increase from 1.17 per 100,000 from the previous UK HSA report.


The symptoms of Eris are similar to those of previous Covid strains:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • Dry cough
  • Headache
  • Wet cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Muscle aches
  • Altered smell
Updated: August 09, 2023, 5:17 AM