Washington (AP) — Can new variants of the coronavirus continue to emerge?
Yes, as long as the virus that caused the pandemic continues to infect people. However, that does not mean that new variants will continue to emerge on a regular basis, or that they will become more dangerous.
Since more than half of the world has not yet been vaccinated, the virus may find infected people and continue to replicate within them for the next few months or years. And every time the virus makes a copy of itself, a small mutation can occur. These changes may help the virus survive and become a new variant.
But that doesn’t mean that the virus will continue to evolve in the same way since it first appeared in late 2019.
Andrew Reed, a virus expert at Pennsylvania State University, says that when a virus infects a new species, it needs to adapt to a new host and spread more widely.
according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Delta variants are twice as contagious as previous versions of the virus. Dr. Adam Rolling, a virus and infectious disease expert at the University of Michigan, said that although it could mutate to increase infectivity, the rate of infection would probably not double again.
“We’ve seen the stages of rapid evolution of the virus. We’re harvesting hanging fruits, but the possibilities aren’t endless,” says Lauring.
The virus can be more deadly, but there is no evolutionary reason for it to happen. People who are very ill are also less likely to socialize and spread the virus to others.
Experts are watching to see if the new variants are better at avoiding the protection people develop from vaccination and infection. Dr. Joshua Siffer, a virus expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said the virus would have to be able to spread to people with some immunity to survive as more people fire. increase.
“The virus can cause mutations that reduce the effectiveness of the immune response,” he says.
In that case, scientists may recommend that you update your vaccine prescription on a regular basis, similar to your annual flu shot.
Will new variants of coronavirus continue to emerge?
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