The future of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unclear, but you should expect there to be more COVID-19 variants, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief pandemic scientist for the White House.
Driving the news: “It’s really tough to say what is going to happen,” Fauci told BuzzFeed News. “But there are going to be new variants.”
Why this matters: Fauci explained that more COVID-19 variants will lead to upticks in cases, which could come throughout the year at any point. In fact, a rise in COVID-19 variants could lead to “seasonal COVID,” where the virus picks up strength every few months.
What he said: “I think we will see ‘blips’ where there are more cases going forward as new variants emerge,” Fauci said.
Worth noting: Fauci told BuzzFeed News that variants will rise up in places where “you have large pockets of unvaccinated people that give the virus room to evolve.”
The bigger picture: COVID-19 variants continue to pop up throughout the country. Some of them aren’t true variants, but subvariants of the COVID-19 variants. Many of the recent subvariants appear tied to the omicron variant, which led to widespread coronavirus cases in the winter of 2021-2022.
- The World Health Organization said Monday it is monitoring two new omicron subvariants — BA.4 and BA.5.
- At the same time, both the BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 variants — which are subvariants of the omicron’s first subvariant, BA.2 — created a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in New York, the New York State Department of Public Health said Wednesday.
- And then there’s the omicron XE variant, which brings together the BA.2 variant and the original omicron variant.