As long as the virus that caused pandemic keeps infecting people, new Covid variants will emerge. But that does not mean that they will emerge as regularly or be more dangerous.
With more than half the world still not vaccinated, the virus will likely keep finding people to infect and replicating inside them for several months or years to come. And each time a virus makes a copy of itself, small mutation could occur. leading to new variants.
When a virus infect a new species, it needs to adapt to the new host to spread more widely, says Andrew Read, a virus expert at Pennyslvania State University in the US.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US, the Delta variants is twice as contaginous as earlier versions of the virus. And while it could still mutate to become more infectious, it probably won’t double its transmission rate again, Says, Dr Adam Lauring, a virus and infectious disease expert at the University of Michigan, US.
“We ‘ve seen a stage of rapid evolution for the virus. It’s been harvesting the low-hanging fruit, but there’s not an infinite number of things it can do” he adds.
It’s possible that the virus could become deadly, but there isn’t an evolutionary reason for that to happen. Experts are watching to see whether emerging variants could be better at evading the protection people develop from vaccination and infections. If that happens, scientists may recommend that vaccine formulas be updated periodically, just as annual flue shots are.