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New Round of COVID Vaccines Heading For US As “Eris” Variant Rises

The news comes amid rising numbers of the COVID-19 variant EG.5.


Tom Hale


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Nurse giving the Covid-19 vaccine to a teenager girl due to coronavirus epidemic.

COVID-19 variant EG.5, aka Eris, has become the dominant variant in the US.

Image credit: MilanMarkovic78/

Updated COVID vaccines will reportedly be available in the US next month amid rising numbers of the new variant “Eris”. However, some public health experts are not expecting this batch of vaccines to be taken up with the same gusto as in previous years.

Also known as EG.5, Eris is a subvariant of Omicron. It was first reported on February 17, 2023, and now accounts for just over 18 percent of COVID-19 cases in the US. It’s currently responsible for just 2 percent of cases in the UK, but that number is expected to increase as it grows in prevalence globally.


The World Health Organization (WHO) classed it as a “variant of interest” on August 9 but added that the global risk level for the variant was low. That said, it is anticipated to bring a wave of fresh cases and put some degree of strain on healthcare systems around the world. 

As Reuters reports, new vaccines that will likely be able to tackle the variant are on the way and will be available from healthcare providers and pharmacies from next month. 

Many of the pharmaceutical companies behind the COVID vaccines – like Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax – have all created versions of the COVID vaccine to try to match the variant they believe will be circulating this winter season.

Their updated vaccines were designed to primarily target the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, which is slowly declining nationwide. Fortunately, early data suggests that the new shots will still be effective against Eris.


For instance, clinical trial data published by Moderna on August 17 showed that their updated vaccines increased the number of neutralizing antibodies against Eris, as well as the FL.1.5.1 variant. 

“I think that these vaccines will provide very substantial protection against EG.5. Maybe just a little bit of loss, but it’s nothing that I’m very concerned about,” Dr Mark Mulligan, director of the NYU Langone Vaccine Center, told CNBC. “It looks like we’re going to be OK.”

Many health experts are not overly optimistic that everyone in the US will eagerly get another COVID shot this fall amid declining concern about the virus and skepticism about the merits of this vaccine.

However, they are keen to stress that receiving a booster is an effective way to reduce the risk of falling seriously ill with the virus, especially if you're vulnerable. 


“Public health officials, if they want to see a majority of adults get these annual vaccines, they’re going to have to make the case to the American public that Covid isn’t over and it still poses a risk to them,” Ashley Kirzinger, Kaiser Family Foundation Director of Survey Methodology, told Reuters.

"When you look at what you can do to reduce your duration of illness, even if you do get sick, being boosted is going to be the best way to do that," added Dr David Boulware, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Minnesota.


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