Dr's Casebook: Covid is on the increase again with new variant - Eris
Dr Keith Souter writes: This was brought home to me recently when we had lunch a couple of weeks ago with old friends who were heading up to Scotland for a large family reunion. Just a couple of days ago I heard that they had to come home early, as they had all gone down with Covid.
Recorded coronavirus cases are on the rise around the world, and only last week, the World Health Organization named an Omicron subvariant called EG.5, now commonly known as ‘Eris’ as a variant of interest.
The Eris variant seems to have an extra spike protein mutation. Everyone is familiar with the shape of the virus, which I think of as being like an old Second World War mine. The spike latches onto receptors on human cells walls and allows it to break into them to start the infective process.
The WHO indicate that the Eris health risk is relatively low and is similar to Omicron. However, that extra spike protein may help it to evade immunity achieved after a previous infection with Covid, or after vaccination. So, we cannot become complacent.
It is still very important to keep up with vaccination doses, but I would like to reiterate how important hand washing is for at least 20 seconds. I previously reported on research from Nottingham University. They observed that car drivers touched themselves from the shoulder upwards more than 25 times per hour. Surprisingly, each touch lasted nearly four seconds.
Of added concern, in 40 per cent of occasions, the mucus membranes of the lips, nose and eyes were touched once every five minutes. These were usually with the fingertips and thumbs. Although you might think that these parts of the hands are cleaned by handwashing they are actually often missed, especially if the person just cursorily rinses the hands.
We do still need to take care, both for ourselves and for others, especially when doing things we take for granted.