The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there could be more variants of the coronavirus, with billions of people worldwide yet to be vaccinated.
According to the WHO officials, this will create plenty of opportunities for COVID-19 to spread and possibly give rise to new variants.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s very unlikely that omicron will be the last variant that you will hear us discuss. Certainly, the virus continues to evolve,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, at a press briefing.
Dr Michael Ryan, WHO executive director for health emergencies, acknowledged that “but at the moment, we’re not doing enough to prevent that happening in terms of protecting people, and in terms of distributing vaccines in a way that would assist with reducing the emergence of variants.”
According to Our World in Data, 9.33 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally.
But only 58.8 percent of the global population has received at least one dose. In low-income countries, only 8.8 percent of the population has received a vaccine.
Dr Ryan also noted that when the delta variant emerged as a variant of concern, several scientists described it as the “fittest” and “best-adapted virus” they’ve ever seen and that they “cannot see how this virus could adapt anymore.”
But now omicron has been shown to be more transmissible than previous variants, including delta.
Dr Maria Van however said important discussions are taking place on how “much more fit” the COVID-19 virus can become in terms of its transmission and transmissibility.
And while the current global focus is on omicron because of how fast it is spreading, “Delta continues to be a variant of concern,” she said, noting that there are currently about 30 “sublineages of delta” that WHO is tracking.