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Scientists say more variants will follow Omicron

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Posted: Monday, January 17, 2022. 2:47 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Experts say more variants will develop after Omicron and the best way that from happening is to get vaccinated, according to Associated Press.

The World Health Organization said that it would help if 70% of all countries’ populations get vaccinated by mid-year but is concerned because dozens of countries have less than 25% of their populations vaccinated.

The experts say that because the Omicron variant is spreading so fast, it’s infecting so many more people, and that in turn it can open the door for mutations which may cause more variants.

“The faster omicron spreads, the more opportunities there are for mutation, potentially leading to more variants,” Leonardo Martinez, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston University, said according to Associated Press.

But while people are generally hoping that the coronavirus weakens, experts say that any number can play. While COVID-19 could become a flu-like disease, it could very well become stronger. And vaccines may or may not work against them.

However, scientist says that Omicron being milder may be attributable to the world being better immunized by vaccination and the number of people who got infected already.

According to research, Omicron is at minimum twice as contagious as Delta and at least four times more contagious than the original COVD-19.

According to the World Health Organization, a record 15 million new cases of COVID-19 were reported for the week of January 3 to 9 which represents a 55% increase in comparison to the previous week.

Omicron is believed to be more likely to reinfect people who already had COVID-19 and it is affecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated, though the unvaccinated are the worst hit when infected.

Infectious disease expert at John Hopkins University Dr. Stuart Campbell said that longer and persistent infections “seem to be the most likely breeding grounds for new variants.” He said that only when there is very widespread infection, the opportunity for new variants to develop occurs.

Scientists say that as a virus gets better at evading immunity, such as Omicron is showing, it is better prepared to survive over the long term. When COVID-19 first reared its ugly head, no one in the world was immune to it. Now that people have picked up immunity through infections and vaccines, the virus must adapt to survive and so far, it seems to be doing well with the rise of new variants.

Scientists believe that the avenues for evolution include animals potentially incubating the virus and creating new variants. Pet dogs and cats and other animals could help the virus mutate and pass them on to people.

Another possibility is the development of a “Frankenvariant” – a hybrid that could develop the characteristics of two variants such as Omicron and Delta which are now in circulation.

Scientists say that to control the birth of new variants we must continue following public health measures like wearing masks and getting vaccinated.

Louis Mansky, director of the Institute for Molecular Virology at the University of Minnesota, believes that because there are so many unvaccinated in the world, “the virus is still kind of in control of what’s going on.”

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