Right now, there is not a variant of high consequence in the United States. But the rise of one could present major issues for the country.
- “Currently, there are no SARS-CoV-2 variants that rise to the level of high consequence,” according to the CDC.
The delta variant, which is dominating the U.S. right now, has been labeled a variant of concern, which has increased transmissibility, reduction in vaccine effectiveness and has led to more severe cases, per the CDC.
What is a variant of high consequence?
Per the CDC, a variant of high consequence is often a variant of concern that doesn’t stop spreading because of preventative measures.
- Most variants of high consequence can evade vaccines at a high rate and will show “a disproportionately high number of vaccine breakthrough cases, or very low vaccine-induced protection against severe disease,” according to the CDC.
A variant of high consequence will often lead to more severe disease and increased hospitalizations.
Is this the ‘doomsday variant’?
Experts told Newsweek that a “doomsday variant” of COVID-19 might be on the way, which could evade vaccines and cause widespread cases in the U.S.
- “I wouldn’t be incredibly surprised if something else came along that’s even more transmissible,” Eric Vail, director of molecular pathology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, told Newsweek.
Indeed, Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, told The Washington Post that no one knows how the coronavirus will evolve moving forward.
- “Nobody knows what tricks the virus has left,” Luban told The Washington Post. “It’s possible we’ve seen all of its chess moves, or its poker tricks, but it’s got a very big complicated genome and it probably still has some space to explore.”