WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — This is the fourth summer since COVID-19 has plagued the world.

This summer there is a new variant dominating cases in the United States. It’s called EG.5 and is nicknamed Eris.

EG.5 had been found in more than 50 countries as of Aug. 8, according to the World Health Organization. It is the most common and fastest growing COVID-19 subvariant in the U.S.

It’s estimated to be responsible for around 17% of current COVID-19 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Marc Siegel, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Services, said the rise in COVID-19 cases is multifactorial.

First, there has been a change in the variant, the Omicron variant that was the XBB variant, to the EG.5 variant that is now circulating. He said that seems to have made the variant more transmissible.

“I think we’re just seeing partly a more transmissible Omicron subvariant,” Siegel said. “Because of decreasing circulating cases, I think the immunity in the local community and nationwide has just dropped to a point that we have a more susceptible population again.”

Siegel said he expects the COVID booster shot to help lessen symptoms of the EG.5 variant.

“The Bivalent vaccine that is currently available has actually good protection against this current circulating strain,” he said. “There’s still the opportunity to go out and get the current Bivalent COVID booster that’s been around since September of last year.”

As students, teachers and staff get ready to head back to school, Siegel said the number of COVID-19 cases will likely spike.

“I think we will see increasing numbers for the next several weeks, if not a month, before we start seeing a decline,” he added. “Hopefully, even if there is an increase in cases, that doesn’t overburden the health care system and we don’t see uptake and mortality associated with it.”

Siegel recommends people continue to wash their hands, wear masks in large social gatherings and get vaccinated.