The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus will not be the last COVID-19 variant we see in our lifetime, according to Dr. Leana Wen, a professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
What’s going on: Wen recently spoke with CNN about the new “stealth” omicron COVID-19 variant, saying it’s something to be cautious about even if it’s similar to normal omicron.
- “We should be cautious and monitor new information as it comes out, but we shouldn’t worry,” she said.
New variant talk: Wen told CNN that the new BA.2 subvariant of the omicron variant isn’t the last COVID-19 variant that we'll see, either.
- “New variants are popping up all the time, because that’s what viruses do: They mutate when they replicate.
- “Whether a new variant causes global concern depends on if it’s more contagious, more virulent or if it can override prior immunity.
- “This is why real-time surveillance is so important, and it’s also why vaccination is key. The more population immunity we have, the less viruses will spread and mutate, and the quicker we can all emerge from this pandemic.”
The bigger picture: New COVID-19 variants can emerge at any time. For example, a team of researchers in New York City found viral fragments in wastewater that showed a unique collection of mutations for a coronavirus variant that has not been found in humans yet.
- “I think it’s really important that we find the source, and we have not been able to pin that down,” said one of the researchers, John Dennehy, a virologist at Queens College, according to The New York Times.
One more note to go: The omicron variant in itself may be the baby of two separate COVID-19 lineages, showing the virus is always on the move and always potentially mutating, as I reported for the Deseret News.