Scientists are warning that the next SARS-CoV-2 variant could well be more dangerous than the latest strain to emerge, Omicron.
Professor Mark Woolhouse of Edinburgh University said it is unknown where the next variant will come from but noted that Omicron did not emerge from the previous variant, Delta.
Omicron “came from a completely different part of the virus’s family tree. And since we don’t know where in the virus’s family tree a new variant is going to come from, we cannot know how pathogenic it might be. It could be less pathogenic but it could, just as easily, be more pathogenic,” he told The Guardian.
The scientist’s opinion was supported by Professor Lawrence Young of Warwick University.
“People seem to think there has been a linear evolution of the virus from Alpha to Beta to Delta to Omicron,” he told The Observer. “But that is simply not the case. The idea that virus variants will continue to get milder is wrong. A new one could turn out to be even more pathogenic than the Delta variant, for example.”
The scientists’ takes come after Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been front and center since the virus arrived in America in January 2020, says the day we can all ditch the face masks could come “soon.”
“As we get out of the full-blown pandemic phase of COVID-19, which we are certainly heading out of, these decisions will increasingly be made on a local level rather than centrally decided or mandated. There will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus,” Fauci said in an interview with the Financial Times.
Fauci added that he hoped restrictions would end “soon.”
“I hope we are looking at a time when we have enough people vaccinated and enough people with protection from previous infection that the Covid restrictions will soon be a thing of the past,” he said.
But Fauci’s optimism is not shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which still urges masks even as a growing number of states, including California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois — all led by Democrats — begin lifting mask mandates.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walsensky said this week that it will not loosen the guidance.
“Right now, we still have about 290,000 cases every single day, and our hospitalization rates now are higher than they even were at the peak of our Delta surge,” Walensky said Tuesday in a radio interview with WYPR’s Tom Hall. “So in this moment — while we are looking ahead and planning ahead, and we’ll continue to evaluate and follow the science — our recommendations are consistent with encouraging students to wear well-fitting masks.”
Still, the White House, acknowledging the fact that Americans are weary of mandates, walked back its previous criticism of Democratic governors altering their mandates, saying states will decided their own regulations.
“These states, I think it’s important to note, they still allow for decisions to be made by local school districts,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in the daily press briefing.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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