We have now seen several surges of COVID-19 sweep through countries and continents over the past few years. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and then Omicron variants popping up seemingly at random. A new article published in Nature though discusses whether these really are random and whether a pattern is emerging that may become cyclical and predictable.
Preceding Omicron, variants seemed to randomly pop up from all different parts of the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 lineage. We didn’t know what symptoms, disease severity, immune escape, hospitalization rate, contagiousness, and more would come as the variant may be nothing like the previous variant. We started seeing these surges come every 6 months or so.
Now though, the variants coming are all ancestors of Omicron. Subvariants of Omicron BA.1, such as BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.4, BA.5 and more are causing smaller secondary “mini-surges” in different countries as Omicron mutates to have a degree of immune escape and higher transmissibility.
South Africa has become a model given it was hit earliest by Omicron. We see similar patterns in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, France, and more.
Will we see COVID-19 start to have predictable, mild, Omicron-subvariant surges that come every handful of months at predictable intervals with predictable mild disease? We dive into these topics!
Article discussed: https://www.nature.com/articles/d4158…