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The worst COVID-19 variant yet may arrive this spring, expert says

Could a vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variant arrive in the spring?

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SARS-CoV-2 virus particles that cause COVID-19.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles that cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab.

NIAID-RML via Associated Press

Experts have been worried about a potential vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variant, and now one expert has a timeline of when we might see one in the United States.

Dr. Mark Dybul, a professor at Georgetown University Medical Center’s Department of Medicine and immunologist, said there will be a COVID-19 vaccine-resistant variant by spring 2022, according to Fortune.

  • “The faster we get boosted, the better off we’ll be for the next couple of months,” he said. “Sadly, every prediction I’ve made has pretty much come true. I hope I’m wrong this time, but I think by March, April, May, we will have a fully vaccine-resistant variant. There’s simply no way you can have such low rates of vaccination around the world with the virus ping-ponging between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. I’m an immunologist. The probability of us seeing a vaccine-resistant strain is very high.”

However, Dybul said that there will be advancements in therapeutics and vaccines to help stop the massive spread of that variant. Nasal sprays could help stop variants, too.

  • “I think we’ll have products like that in the next year and a half or so,” said Dybul, who was trained by Dr. Anthony Fauci, per Fortune. “So the longer term will be okay, but the next year and a half could be pretty rough.”

In October, Wales’ first minister, Mark Drakeford, said he was concerned that a new COVID-19 variant resistant to vaccines will arrive soon.

  • “There is at least a possibility that that variant will turn out to be more resistant to vaccination than the current one we have,” he said.

Scientists in Germany warned in October that an older COVID-19 variant — called the A.30 variant — can evade the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, too.

Fauci warned in September that a “monster variant” could arrive that would make the delta variant look weak in comparison.

  • “There’s always a risk of, as you get more circulation of the virus in the community, that you’ll get enough accumulation of new mutations to get a variant substantially different than the ones we’re seeing now,” Fauci said on the MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Correction: This article previously said Dr. Mark Dybul said a variant could come in spring 2023. He said spring 2022.