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‘Milder Omicron an evolutionary mistake,’ warns Cambridge scientist

File photo for representation   | Photo Credit: Reuters

The reduced severity of Omicron is good news for now, but it is the result of an “evolutionary mistake” as COVID-19 is transmitting very efficiently and there is no reason for it to become milder, indicating that the next variant could be more virulent, a leading Indian-origin scientist from the University of Cambridge has warned.

Ravindra Gupta, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases (CITIID), led a recent study on the Omicron variant.

While the study showed that the new variant is infecting the cells in the lungs less, the virus itself is not becoming milder. “There is this assumption that viruses become more benign over time but that’s not what’s happening here because those are long-term evolutionary trends,” Prof. Gupta told PTI on Thursday.

“SARS-CoV-2 is transmitting very efficiently so it doesn't have any reason to become milder, especially in the era of vaccination with plenty of susceptible hosts. So I think it’s an evolutionary mistake. It's not something intentional that the virus is trying to do to change its biology,” he said.


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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 7:44:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/milder-omicron-an-evolutionary-mistake-warns-cambridge-scientist/article38177941.ece

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