Update on the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron sublineages. 22 August 2023

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In the context of the emergence of additional Omicron sublineages, PAHO/WHO reiterates that the nomenclature established to address the potential public health impacts of variants has not changed. Nomenclatures based on phylogenetic analysis (e.g., Pango Network and Nextstrain) can also be used to designate lineages or sublineages. However, other nomenclatures or nicknames are not official and should not be used.

PAHO/WHO regularly assesses new Omicron sublineages. Two new variants have recently been identified: EG.5, classified as a variant of interest (VOI), and BA.2.86, classified as a variant under monitoring (VUM). Based on the available evidence, the public health risk posed by EG.5 has been evaluated as low and it is similar to other circulating variants of interest. Limited information is available for BA.2.86; and the initial risk assessment will be generated soon. To date, there is no evidence of significant changes in the public health impact of these sublineages and there is no justification for the assignment of a new “variant of concern”.

COVID-19 recommendations remain unchanged. In particular, PAHO strongly encourages all countries in the Region to continue collecting representative samples for sequencing and to maintain appropriate SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

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