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Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Experts warn that next COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come because there is no guarantee that subsequent variants “will cause milder disease or that existing vaccines will work against them,” underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, the AP writes.

  • The chances of the virus mutating increase with each infection, which is worrisome because the highly contagious Omicron variant spreads quickly, per AP.

Between the lines: It’s not clear what subsequent variants might look like or how they might affect the pandemic, experts warn.

What they say: “The faster ommicron spreads, the more opportunities there are for mutation, potentially leading to more variants,” Leonardo Martinez, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston University, told the AP.

  • “It’s the longer, lingering infections that seem to be the most likely breeding ground for new variants,” Stuart Campbell Ray, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, said per AP.
  • “Only when you have a very widespread infection are you going to provide the opportunity for that to happen.”

The big picture: Preliminary research suggests that the highly contagious Omicron variant is more resistant to previous coronavirus infection than other variants, Caitlin Owens of Axios reports this.

  • Early studies have also shown that coronavirus vaccines — especially without booster vaccination — are less effective against Omicron infections than other variants, although they appear to have good resistance to serious illness.
  • The World Health Organisation reported nearly 20 million new cases of COVID-19 in the past seven days.

Go deeper: Protection from previous infection significantly reduced against Omicron