The next variant of the coronavirus could be more deadly than the omicron strain, according to a recent lab study from South Africa.
The study, done by the Africa Research Health Institute in Durban and released last week, used omicron variant samples taken over six months from a person who was immunosuppressed because of advanced HIV.
The study, which has not been peer-reviewed, showed the virus initially caused the same level of cell fusion and cell death as the mild omicron BA.1 strain, but as the virus evolved, those levels rose to become similar to the initial version of the disease identified in Wuhan, China.
Professor Alex Sigal, a virologist and the study’s lead author, tweeted their parameters showed that over the virus’ long-term evolution, it became less weakened.
“Therefore, the next major variant, if it comes, may not necessarily be as mild as omicron,” Sigal wrote in the tweet.
The study, done by the same lab that tested the omicron variant against vaccines last year, said the results have limitations because only one person was studied, suggesting a larger sample size will be needed to prove conclusive. But it did state the results might “indicate that a future variant could be more pathogenic than currently circulating omicron strains.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the omicron BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 subvariants make up more than half of the new infections in the United States. The once-dominant BA.5 subvariant, which used to be the dominant strain, now makes up 19.4% of new infections.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.