The coronavirus pandemic is constantly shifting.

After an omicron variant surge, the pandemic appears to be dropping off in case numbers and restrictions are being loosened across the country.

What’s next: STAT News recently offered four different scenarios for the future of the coronavirus, explaining what the future of the SARS-CoV-2 virus could look like around the world.

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  • Epidemic future: One scenario suggests the coronavirus would become epidemic, meaning that it will become similar to upper respiratory infections that can spread commonly.
  • A new version of COVID-19: Another scenario suggests SARS-CoV-2 could evolve to affect other cells, which means it could impact different parts of the body, according to STAT News. This could lead to a better virus or a worse one, depending on what parts of the body it affects.
  • A new hybrid virus: There’s a chance that the virus could combine with another virus and “create a hybrid that spawns a new pandemic, just as the occasional hybridization of human and bird influenza viruses is known to give rise to human influenza pandemics,” according to STAT News.
  • Against the antibodies: The virus could evolve to evade vaccines and exploit antibodies. Specifically, the virus could make it so antibodies make people more susceptible to infection, per STAT News.

Yes, but: Experts have suggested that the novel coronavirus could mutate again into a new COVID-19 variant and that it’s best to prepare for a new COVID-19 variant now, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

The coronavirus “is still mutating, and there is no guarantee that future variants will be mild. There is a high chance that more surges are in our future, particularly for unvaccinated people,” Dr. Megan Ranney, professor of emergency medicine and academic dean of public health at Brown University, recently wrote for NBC News.