Are there new coronavirus variants that can be developed?
Yes, so long as the pandemic virus continues to infect people. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that new viruses will not be developed as often or that they’ll become more dangerous.
The virus is likely to continue infecting people for months to years, even though more than half of the world has not been vaccinated. A small mutation can occur every time a virus creates a copy of its self. These changes can help the virus survive and become new variants.
However, this doesn’t mean that the virus will stop evolving as it did in late 2019
Andrew Read, a Pennsylvania State University virus expert, said that virus infection can spread to new species if it adapts to their host.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that the delta variant of the virus is twice as infectious as the earlier forms. It could still evolve to become more infectious but it won’t be twice as likely to transmit again, according Dr. Adam Lauring at the University of Michigan.
“We have seen rapid evolution of the virus.” Lauring states that the virus has been focusing on low-hanging fruits, but it’s capable of doing many other things.
Although it is possible for the virus to become more fatal, there is no evolutionary reason. People who are extremely ill are less likely to spread the virus to others.
Experts are examining whether new variants of the virus could be more effective at evading immunity and infection. According to Dr. Joshua Schiffer, a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center virus expert, the virus will spread more easily if there are people with some immunity to it.
He says, “The virus could undergo a mutation that renders the immune system less effective.”
Scientists may recommend that vaccine formulations are updated regularly if this happens.