A new major coronavirus variant could arrive soon because the world has such a high vaccination gap, experts recently told The New York Times.
The news: World Health Organization leaders warned this week that the recent surge of omicron cases and the vaccination gap around the world could lead to another variant.
- Several countries across the world are worried about getting everyone vaccinated, especially now that the most vulnerable people have been vaccinated.
- “Low vaccination coverage creates conditions for widespread virus circulation and with that the possibility of new variants emerging,” The New York Times reports.
What they’re saying: “The fact remains that more than three billion people haven’t received their first dose yet, so we have a long way to go,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead, told The New York Times. “There are many countries still in the middle of this omicron wave.”
- “It’s dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the endgame,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization. “On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge.”
Flashback (and flashforward): Dr. Mark Dybul, a professor at Georgetown University Medical Center’s Department of Medicine and immunologist, said back in November — before the omicron variant emerged, mind you — that a COVID-19 vaccine-resistant variant would appear 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.”