Omicron which was earlier thought to be less severe and the probable end of the two-year-old pandemic may actually be a precursor to more worrisome variants, scientists now think. Leonardo Martinez, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston University, said, the faster the Omicron spreads, which is happening across the world, the more opportunities it gets for further mutations, leading to more variants. There is no way to confirm or predict the arrival of the next variant, but there is no guarantee either that the future variants will cause milder illness.
“The faster omicron spreads, the more opportunities there are for mutation, potentially leading to more variants,” Leonardo told AP.
“People have wondered whether the virus will evolve to mildness. But there’s no particular reason for it to do so. I don’t think we can be confident that the virus will become less lethal over time,” said Dr Stuart Campbell Ray, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University.
UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has predicted there will be a fresh wave of Omicron cases in the early summer as people resume social activities and the immunity achieved in the ongoing surge reduces, The Guardian reported.
Here is what may happen after Omicron, according to experts
1. Omicron is likely to lead to reinfections, experts think. People infected with Delta or other previous variants or even Omicron may get reinfected.
2. It’s a possibility that the virus becomes milder like a common cold but viruses don’t always get less deadly over time. Omicron’s initial behaviour has kindled the hope.
3. Replicating is the main goal of a variant which is easily possible when the infected people develop mild symptoms and spread the virus to others without understanding.
4. There are many possible avenues for evolution, the AP report said. Animals could potentially incubate and unleash new variants.
5. Another possible avenue for Omicron is to create Frankenvariants with Delta, hybrids with characteristics of both Omicron and Delta.
(With agency inputs)