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COVID Variant Worse Than Omicron Likely in Next 2 Years, Warns England’s Chief Medical Officer

UK's SAGE advisors have warned of a "realistic possibility" that a more lethal variant could emerge that kills one in three people, in line with earlier coronaviruses such as MERS.

Published: March 24, 2022 10:28 PM IST

By News Desk | Edited by Priyanka

Children and their caregivers arrive for school in New York, Monday, March 7, 2022. New York City passed a COVID-19 milestone on Monday as masks became optional in city schools and restaurants and other businesses could stop asking patrons for proof of vaccination. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
As the country is going through Anzac long weekend, the Ministry has warned people to take health measures to protect themselves from the virus.

London/New Delhi: If you thought COVID-19 pandemic was over, please read this. There are “high chances” of a new COVID variant, worse than Omicron, emerging in the next two years, Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer has warned. He said there was still a “long way to go” because the virus will continue to “throw surprises”. He also insisted the virus – which now poses a similar death threat as flu – will be with us “for the rest of our lives”, the Daily Mail reported.

Whitty noted that the strain could cause “worse problems than Omicron and the challenges from the current strain are not by any means trivial”, and its emergence could “significantly change our balance of risk”. Dismissing the idea that COVID has become an endemic, he said it is incorrect to assume the virus has reached a “stable state around the globe, despite easing restrictions by many countries”.

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“And there’s a high chance that we will all be discussing, and I will be discussing with my colleagues, a new variant at some point in the next two years that actually significantly changes our balance of risk,” he said. “We could well end up with a new variant that produces worse problems than we’ve got with Omicron and the Omicron problems are by no means trivial,” he added.

Advisors warn of a more lethal variant

UK’s SAGE advisors have warned of a “realistic possibility” that a more lethal variant could emerge that kills one in three people, in line with earlier coronaviruses such as MERS. This is because Omicron evolved from a different part of the virus’s lineage, and there is no guarantee the next strain will evolve directly from Omicron.

UK Coronavirus Update: 5 Points

  1. Meanwhile, the UK is seeing a resurgence in COVID cases and deaths, after a brief lull. COVID deaths rose by a quarter compared to a week ago, however, with 250 recorded, the report said.
  2. Hospital admissions also increased 17 per cent in a week, after 1,879 admissions were logged on March 18.
  3. Experts have blamed the uptick on BA.2, which is now dominant in the country. But the strain is not thought to be any more severe than the original Omicron variant.
  4. Whitty said the BA.2 Omicron variant is a “large part” of the current high rates that are rising “in virtually all parts of England”.
  5. He said the strain, thought to be as contagious as chickenpox, is not translating into surges in deaths or intensive care admissions – but “that doesn’t mean that it is having no impact at all”.

(With IANS inputs)

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