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WIll there be another new COVID-19 variant after omicron and the BA.2 variant?

What to know about the next potential COVID variant

SHARE WIll there be another new COVID-19 variant after omicron and the BA.2 variant?
An illustration of the coronavirus.

An illustration of the coronavirus, which continues to evolve.

Illustration by Zoe Peterson, Deseret News

There is still potential for the novel coronavirus to mutate into a new coronavirus variant, an infectious disease expert recently told the Deseret News.

Driving the news: Dr. Robert Quigley, an infectious disease expert and senior vice president of International SOS, a leading medical and security services company, told the Deseret News in an email that the coronavirus is constantly evolving, which could lead to a new variant down the line.

What he said: “COVID-19 is an evolving virus, and like any other virus it has a tendency to mutate,” Quigley said.

  • “So long as there are accessible hosts (unvaccinated) where the virus can replicate there will be the continued risk of future mutations and hence new variants,” he added.
  • “It is hoped that any new variant does not cause new disease and/or make the existing vaccines ineffective.”

The bigger picture: Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told Bloomberg Thursday that there’s about a 20% chance of a new dangerous coronavirus variant emerging in the near future.

  • He said that the new COVID-19 variant would be more troublesome for people, especially vulnerable populations.
  • Such a variant would require more boosters and restrictions.

What he said: “I think there’s an 80% chance that the variants that we’re going to see in the future are manageable from a severity standpoint and vaccine production,” Bancel told Bloomberg.

  • “But I think we should always be very cautious, because there’s a 20% chance that something happens in some of the new variants that is very virulent.”

Worth noting: Scientists told Newsweek in August 2021 that there was a potential “doomsday COVID variant” down the line. This was expressed before the rise of the omicron variant, which surged through the United States this winter.

  • Before the omicron variant, Dr. Mark Dybul, a professor at Georgetown University Medical Center’s Department of Medicine and an immunologist, predicted a variant would rise this spring — likely due to the unvaccinated population.
  • “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,” he said, according to Fortune.