"As the virus accelerates its evolution, the humans capitulate. For two and a
half years, Covid-19 has been outrunning our response, getting more and more
transmissible, reaching a level of infectiousness that few pathogens have ever
attained. Instead of taking a stance of getting ahead of the virus, and
outsmarting it, people have succumbed.
In recent months, we experienced a striking jump in transmissibility when the
Omicron (BA.1) variant became dominant, with at least a threefold increase in
reproductive number beyond Delta. Despite the hope that this might be reaching
the upper limit of the virus’s spreadability, we quickly transitioned to a BA.2
wave, with at least another jump of about 30% transmissibility, and now we are
heading, in the United States, to a dominant subvariant known as BA.2.12.1,
which is another 25% more transmissible than BA.2 and already accounting for
close to 50% of new cases.
This surely constitutes a meaningful acceleration of the virus’s evolution.
There have been thousands of variants over the course of the pandemic, but only
five major variants, affecting large populations of people, received Greek
letter designations (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron). Each of these
previous variants had numerous sub-lineages, or mutations that might be
considered relatives of the main variant but had no functional consequence –
they did not increase transmissibility or pathogenicity. But with Omicron, we
have already seen multiple subvariants with heightened infectiousness – not
just BA.2, BA.2.12.1, but also BA.4 and BA.5, which are leading to a new wave
in South Africa."
Via Violet Blue’s Pandemic Roundup: May 19, 2022
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics