SAN ANTONIO – Researcher Jean Patterson, Ph.D., with Texas Biomed Research Institute, says scientists around the world are watching, studying and monitoring the mutation of COVID-19 to see what new clusters of variants stick around.
“The virus is under pressure to survive, so the virus is constantly making mutations. That makes it more survivable in whatever environment it’s in,” Patterson said.
Some of that vital research is happening in San Antonio at Texas Biomed Research Institute.
The World Health Organization is tracking several variants of concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. It also has another list of variants of interest: Eta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda and Mu. The variants’ names were changed to letters in the Greek alphabet instead of their place of origin to avoid stigma.
Patterson said those variants are likely already in each continent.
“I don’t think we have any evidence yet that any of them are more dangerous. They’re more transmissible,” Patterson said.
Scientists have not yet figured out if and when the pandemic will end. One hypothesis out there, Patterson says, is that the Delta variant might have fizzled out the other variants.
“If you’re trying to get to a place where a good proportion of the community is immune, either by vaccination or by having been infected, Delta may have contributed to our immunity as a community,” she said of the hypothesis.
Others disagree with that hypothesis because it’s tough to predict what the variants will do next to survive.
“This is a very clever virus that’s been able to mutate in very clever ways and making its survivability harder to predict,” Patterson said.
ALSO ON KSAT.COM