Just a reminder, this pandemic hasn’t gone away. It’s less of a threat to us here right now, but it’s still very much a threat.
The evolution of the coronavirus is likely to produce dangerous new variants that escape built-up immunity and evade vaccines, according to a new study that may offer clues for the future of the pandemic.
In a searing condemnation of “misconceived and premature theories” about the demise of COVID-19, the authors — microbiologists at the European Commission and the University of Oxford — take aim at what they call the “persistent myth” that the virus will evolve to be benign.
That omicron caused relatively mild disease “has been enthusiastically interpreted to be a sign of the approaching end of the pandemic,” the authors write in the study, which was published Monday. “Yet the lower severity of omicron is nothing but a lucky coincidence.”
Instead, the microbiologists believe more severe strains could be on the way as the virus adapts to dodge natural immunity and vaccines. Analyzing the possibilities for how COVID may evolve in the coming months and years, they attempt to debunk the notion that omicron’s lessened severity represents a step towards normalcy.
“Omicron is not at all a good predictor for the future,” said Dr. Peter Markov, a scientist at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and lead author of the study.
Many viruses that plague human populations, including HIV and Hepatitis C, do not evolve to be less severe over time, Markov said.
You can find more details here. You know that BA2 omicron variant that’s already making case counts go up in Europe? We’re starting to see evidence of more infection in the US as well. In the wastewater, of course.
📈SEWER SIGNALS—there is a sharp reversal in wastewater #SARSCoV2–many now rising across the US / plateauing and no longer falling, says CDC data. This parallels surge in Europe, just a few weeks behind. A #BA2 wave is coming—how soon/big is the question🧵 https://bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-14/are-covid-cases-going-back-up-sewer-data-has-potential-warning
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) 3:32 PM – 14 March 2022
There’s a whole thread to read for that. The good news locally is that our wastewater virus levels are still trending down, as of March 7. That of course can change quickly. You know what the best protection from this is, of course.
Hoping it won’t accelerate like the original omicron but we’ll see. Bottom line: 1) if you are not vaccinated get vaccinated, 2) if you are vaccinated get boosted, 3) vaccinate your kids if eligible. 4) Still waiting to hear about 2nd boosts for adults, and green light for <5 yo — Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD (@PeterHotez) 2:03 AM – 15 March 2022
That drum has been beaten to death, and yet the US as a whole and Texas and Harris County in particular are not great on getting shots in arms. Too many vaccinated people haven’t gotten boosters. Too many vax-eligible kids haven’t gotten theirs. The anti-vaxx crowd is as loud and obnoxious and dangerous as ever. And yet even with all that, we’re in a better position than some other places.
NEW: I’m not sure people appreciate quite how bad the Covid situation is in Hong Kong, nor what might be around the corner.
First, an astonishing chart.
After keeping Covid at bay for two years, Omicron has hit HK and New Zealand, but the outcomes could not be more different.
— John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) 12:19 PM – 14 March 2022
Another thread to read. An astonishingly small number of people over the age of 80 have been vaccinated in Hong Kong, which is absolutely getting slammed right now, and in China as well. That and a lack of immunity from prior exposures – this is their reward for suppressing the first waves of COVID so well – are the underlying factors. Our vax rate in Texas isn’t great, but so many people have been infected at least once that it helps make up the gap somewhat. But vax + booster is still by far the most effective protection against hospitalization and death. If the next variant is more effective at avoiding existing protections, or is more severe in addition to being more transmissible, we’re going to be in deep trouble. Hope for the best, make sure everyone in your circle is vaxxed and boosted, and stay vigilant. Stace has more.