NIH Director Collins: ‘Possible’ Omicron Will Not Be Last Emerging Variant of Pandemic

The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that it was “certainly possible” that the Omicron variant will not be the last COVID-19 variant of the pandemic.

Anchor Chuck Todd said, “It seems that a lot of scientists seem to be surprised how much this virus has mutated or how fast this virus is mutating. So I guess we’re to your sense of where we are headed? Look, I know we need to be vaccinated more around the world, but realistically we should we expect essentially a new dominant variant in every six months? We got Delta before that. I mean, are we in that kind of pattern here?”

Collins responded, “It’s certainly possible that this is not the last emerging variant that will attract a lot of attention and a lot of concern. This one does have the largest number of mutations that we’ve seen so far. Omicron with about 50 mutations compared to the original Wuhan virus. It looks as if they probably arose in an immunocompromised individual — this is a hypothesis, but it seems plausible — who wasn’t able to completely fight of the virus. So it remained in the system may be for months in that person until they finally got over it. And that is, of course, a perfect situation for the virus to be able to pick up additional mutations along the way. To the extent that that’s going to keep happening, if we don’t have adequate immune protection across the globe – yeah, we’re probably going to see something. We’ll have to use some of the other letters in the Greek alphabet.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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