Most part of the country is facing the third wave of COVID-19 that is led by the Omicron variant. While it is evident that this variant is causing less hospitalization than all other previous versions, experts predicted that it is going to be the last leg of the coronavirus pandemic. However, scientists have now warned that the Omicron variant is not going to be the last version of the highly infectious disease. They are of the opinion that other variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which was first reported from China’s Wuhan in 2019, are likely to hit the world in the next few months.
This is because every infection provides a chance for the coronavirus to mutate. And it is worrying because the Omicron has an edge over its predecessors when it comes to mutation. Despite large-scale vaccination, this variant is spreading much faster. It clearly indicates that the Omicron, which has been declared a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO), can evolve further.
Researchers said there is no clarity on how serious this variant could be and therefore they pressed on the need for wider vaccination.
“The faster omicron spreads, the more opportunities there are for mutation, potentially leading to more variants,” said Leonardo Martinez – an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston University.
Omicron was reported in mid-November and since then it has spread like wildfire across the globe. The studies conducted so far have shown that the Omicron is at least twice as contagious as all its previous variants including Delta.
Researchers said that there are chances of this variant lingering inside people having weak immunity for a longer period. And this gives the Omicron more time to develop potent mutations.
It’s the longer, persistent infections that seem to be the most likely breeding grounds for new variants, said Dr. Stuart Campbell Ray, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s only when you have a very widespread infection that you’re going to provide the opportunity for that to occur.