Next COVID-19 Variant Will Be More Infectious than Omicron-WHO

According to records from the health agency, around 21 million COVID cases were reported globally last week. This is a new record for cases reported within a week.
The World Health Organisation-WHO is warning that the next COVID-19 variant will be more infectious than Omicron.

The most infectious recorded to date is the Omicron variant which is believed to have a shorter incubation period of three days compared to the Delta which has four days or the Wuhan with five days. Omicron is also believed to be more than 30 times more infectious than the Delta variant.

The warning from WHO comes a day after two years since the UN health agency declared the COVID-19 pandemic an issue of international concern.

According to records from the health agency, around 21 million COVID cases were reported globally last week. This is a new record for cases reported within a week.  

Scientists from WHO notes that the next variant is around the corner and urged people not to relax. The WHO's COVID-19 Technical Lead, Dr. Maria Can Kerkhove during a live-streamed question and answer session warned that the next variant will be more infectious than the Omicron variant.

"The virus is with us and it's not about to go. If you put pressure on this virus it will continue to evolve. The next variant will be more fit and what we mean by it is that it will be more transmissible because it will have to overtake what is currently circulating. The big question is whether or not future variants will be more or less severe," she said.

According to WHO, the COVID-19 virus will continue to evolve before it settles down into a pattern that is more predictable.

Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO Director of Emergency Programs says countries need to continue tracking the disease to be better prepared for any surprises that might spring up.

" COVID is unpredictable. The virus has proven to give us some nasty surprises. Health officials need to continue tracking it as it evolves in case there's a nasty surprise so that we can at least put measures in place to stop new variants from doing any damage," he said.

According to Kerkhove, people should not think that the next variant will be mild as some reports have suggested due to continued mutations of the virus that are believed will make it less virulent.

" There is no guarantee of that, what we can rely on for now are preventive methods which include vaccination, social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands. We have seen this prevent infections and severe diseases," she said.

Pfizer and BioNTech, the manufacturers of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday started testing a new vaccine to target the Omicron variant amidst concerns that the variant doesn't respond to existing vaccines.

This is in line with the WHO's Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition that suggested early this year for the manufacture of vaccines to specifically target the Omicron variant. As such vaccines are developed, the technical group advised vaccines manufacturers to update current vaccines to ensure they continue to provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against infection and disease.