How Covid-19 is mutating…

**We Study Virus Evolution. Here’s Where We Think the Coronavirus Is Going.**

**by By Sarah Cobey, Jesse Bloom, Tyler Starr and Nathaniel Lash, The New York Times, March 28, 2022**

**Here’s what we know: The virus’s Omicron variant was significantly more infectious and more resistant to vaccines than the original strain that first emerged in Wuhan, China. There’s no reason, at least biologically, that the virus won’t continue to evolve. The coronavirus variants that have emerged thus far sample only a fraction of the genetic space that is most likely available for evolutionary exploration....**

**The importance of immune escape has become apparent with Omicron. Prior variants like Delta were only modestly able to sidestep antibodies, but Omicron has many mutations that reduce the ability of antibodies to recognize it. This, coupled with how contagious Omicron is, has enabled it to cause a huge wave of infections. ... It’s impossible to say whether future variants will have more big Omicron-like jumps or more typical stepwise changes, but we are confident SARS-CoV-2 will continue to evolve to escape immunity. ...**

**But we do know that immunity reduces disease severity even when it doesn’t fully block infections and spread, and immunity gained from vaccination and prior infections has helped blunt the impact of the Omicron wave in many countries....** [end quote]

This article has some excellent graphics. Delta had only 2 mutations, which made it more virulent than the original strain. Omicron had 15 mutations which helped it evade the immune system. The authors document 2,000 potential mutations which would still leave the virus able to infect human cells.

Omicron has become endemic. I hope that the government will provide enough funding to develop annual boosters which keep up with the mutations, like the flu.

I expect to get my second Covid booster along with my annual flu shot in October. There’s no doubt in my mind that there will be another spike next winter, though maybe not as large as last winter.