No guarantee that future Covid variants will be less severe: WHO

No guarantee that future Covid variants will be less severe: WHO

The World Health Organization said the next COVID-19 variant that grows will be more contagious than Omicron, but there is no guarantee that the strain will subside in the future.

The real question that scientists will have to answer is whether it will be more deadly, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, CNBC reported.

Van Kerkhove said on Tuesday that last week, nearly 21 million Covid cases were reported to the WHO, setting a new global record for weekly cases from the fast-spreading Omicron version.

While Omicron appears to be less virulent than previous strains of the virus, the sheer volume of cases in many countries is crushing hospital systems.

Van Kerkhove said, “The next version of Worry will be more appropriate, and that means it will be more permeable because it has to go beyond what is currently going on.”

“The big question is whether future variants will be more or less severe.”

The report said it warned against buying into theories that the virus would continue to mutate into mild strains that make people less sick than earlier forms.

“There’s no guarantee. We hope that’s the case, but there’s no guarantee and we can’t count on it,” he said, adding that in the meantime people should pay attention to public safety measures.

Van Kerkhove said, “You won’t have to wear a mask forever and you don’t have to keep social distancing, but for now, we need to keep doing that.”

In addition, the next version of COVID may evade vaccine protection even more, making existing vaccines even less effective.

According to Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s director of emergency programmes, the virus will continue to evolve before settling into a pattern. He said it is expected to potentially settle into low levels of transmission with occasional epidemics. It may be more seasonal or affect only vulnerable groups, the report said.

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