Data: New COVID-19 variant not more severe, but more transmissible

The "Eres" variant is not more severe, but more transmissible.
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 11:57 AM MST|Updated: Aug. 23, 2023 at 6:04 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- For years, experts suggested that COVID-19 might become like the flu, a seasonal illness we deal with yearly. New data shows it’s looking like the case, thanks to a new virus variant.

Because the COVID virus mutates rapidly, it will look a lot like the seasonal flu, and to protect against it, doctors say updated vaccines each season will likely become available.

The new strain of the virus, nicknamed “Eris”, will likely become the dominant strain this fall. So far, it hasn’t been more severe than other strains, but it is very transmissible. Doctors aren’t quite sure if the current vaccines available protect against it. But there is an updated vaccine expected to hit the market next month. Medical professionals are hopeful the new shot will help protect and ease the spread of “Eris.”

“What we are seeing recently is an uptick of numbers COVID-19 in the community. In Arizona, in general, and nationwide: We are seeing the numbers go up, and the numbers obviously do not compare to levels we’ve seen when we’ve had these significant surges that we’ve had the past couple of years. But that is something that we are monitoring closely,” said Dr. Wassim Ballan, an infectious disease expert with Phoenix Children’s.

Doctors have warned that both viruses could increase as kids return to school. So, what should we all be doing until the new shots get approved by the FDA? It’s a familiar tune: hand washing, covering your cough, social distancing.

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