WHO: Next Coronavirus Variant Will Be More Contagious Than Omicron

In tests with cells and hamsters, the omicron was found to infect fewer lung cells (Photo: Getty Images via BBC News)

For the WHO, “the big question is whether or not the future variants will be more or less severe” (Photo: Getty Images)

The whole world has been dealing in recent weeks with new waves of infection by the omicron, the latest variant of the coronavirus. But the World Health Organization (WHO) is already eyeing the future and the next strains that should emerge.

According to the entity, the next variant of the pathogen that causes Covid-19 will be even more contagious than the current one. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not it will be more deadly.

“The next variant of concern will be more suitable, and what we mean by that is it will be more transmissible because it will have to go beyond what is currently circulating,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Covid-19 technical lead. “The big question is whether or not future variants will be more or less severe.”

Kerkhove also warned against theories that the virus will continue to mutate into milder strains, that is, that make people less sick: “There is no guarantee of that. We hope so, but there is no guarantee of it and we cannot bet on it.”

A major concern about what could happen in the coming months is that a new mutation could escape vaccine protections even further. To prevent this from happening, manufacturers are working on new immunizers.

Pfizer and BioNTech, for example, on Tuesday began trials of an immunizer that specifically targets the omicron, as concerns grow that current vaccines are failing to resist infections and mild illness caused by the strain. discovered just over two months ago in South Africa.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified in a study published last week that a booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine was 90% effective in preventing hospitalization for the current strain 14 days after administration, as CNBC points out.

Data from the UK Health Safety Agency, published earlier this month, also found that the extra doses are up to 75% effective in preventing symptomatic Omicron infections two to four weeks after application. However, the study found that boosters weaken substantially after about 10 weeks, providing 45% to 50% protection against symptomatic infections.

Mike Ryan, director of emergency programs at the WHO, said the virus will continue to evolve before settling into a pattern and that the trend is for this to occur at a low level of transmission, with epidemics potentially occasional.

But the specialist pondered that the disease is unpredictable. “The virus has proven to give us some unpleasant surprises,” he said. As such, he stressed that the world’s health authorities need to continue tracking the pathogen as it evolves and be ready to act if the need arises.

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About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

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