14 Feb 2022
Scientists: Next Coronavirus Strain could Kill More People
The Index Today
Scientists have revealed that the next strain of the novel coronavirus could potentially claim many more lives — sounding an ominous warning in the face of an already bleak situation.
Across the world, 5.75 million people have died of COVID-19 and related causes, with global cases crossing 400 million during the first week of February.
According to Mark Woolhouse, a professor of epidemiology at Edinburgh University, it is risky to assume that COVID-19 would fade away with its recurring variants turning milder than the previous ones. He contended, “The Omicron variant did not come from the Delta variant. It came from a completely different part of the virus’s family tree. And since we don’t know where in the virus’s family tree a new variant is going to come from, we cannot know how pathogenic it might be. It could be less pathogenic but it could, just as easily, be more pathogenic.”
David Nabarro, a special envoy for the World Health Organization on COVID-19, echoed similar sentiments saying, “There will be more variants after Omicron and if they are more transmissible they will dominate. In addition, they may cause different patterns of illness, in other words they may turn out to be more lethal or have more long-term consequences.”
Nabarro is also calling on authorities to prepare for possible surges in the future as subsequent virus variants are less likely to be more innocuous. He said, “It would be prudent to encourage people to protect themselves and others consistently. An approach that does not do this would be a gamble with potentially severe consequences. I cannot see any upsides to such a gamble. The pandemic has a long way to go and – as is the case since it started – people and their leaders will influence its long-term impact through actions they take now.”