New coronavirus variant ‘Covid-22’ could be more deadly than Delta


An immunologist studying coronavirus fears the latest variants of Covid-19 could combine to create a new disease in 2022.

A new variant dubbed ‘Covid-22’ could be more deadly than the Delta variant, an expert has warned.

Immunologist Professor Dr Sai Reddy said we “have to prepare” for a new emerging variant in 2022 that could pose a “big risk”, The Sun reported.

The scientist, based in Zurich, Switzerland, warned it was “inevitable” that concerning variants that already exist – like Delta (India), Beta (South African) and Gamma (Brazil) – will combine to make a strain more capable.

“Covid-22 could get worse than what we are witnessing now,” he said.

“If such a variant appears, we have to recognise it as early as possible and the vaccine manufacturers have to adapt the vaccine quickly.

“The emergence of this new variant is the big risk. We have to prepare for it.”

RELATED: Follow our live blog for Victorian coronavirus updates

RELATED: Follow our live blog for NSW coronavirus updates

Speaking to German newspaper Blick, Dr Reddy said Delta was the most contagious variant of all – what he named ‘Covid-21’.

But it doesn’t have “escape mutations”, which are genetic features that help it to dodge the immune system.

Escape mutations, seen in some variants such as Beta, mean vaccines become less effective, and may need to be tweaked in order to protect the population.

Dr Reddy said a combination of these factors – either more deadly, transmissible or immune evading – would be a problem in the near future.

“It is the next phase of the pandemic when Beta or Gamma become more infectious or Delta develops escape mutations. That will be the big problem for the coming year,” he said.

Variants of Covid are expected to arise in the future, as it is a natural part of the viruses evolution.

Whether they will become of significance is impossible to predict.

But with several already popping up in the space of less than two years, it does not bode well.


Sage, the group of scientists advising the UK government, have said “vaccines do not provide absolute sterilising immunity”.

In a paper published on July 30, the group said the likelihood of Covid becoming more deadly was described as “likely” to a “realistic possibility”, due to the virus still spreading at such a high level globally.

The document stressed the importance of keeping on top of booster campaigns – the first of which could start in September.

The benefit of booster shots is to make sure people have the maximum amount of protection possible – as immunity wanes over time – and potentially for them to get a shot tweaked against new variants.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said earlier this month he was “confident” a booster vaccine campaign can start next month.

However, he said he was waiting for a “final opinion” from the JCVI – the expert panel on vaccines that advises how to use jabs.

Earlier this year, plans were drawn up for millions to get an extra vaccination by Christmas time, but now the numbers could be far lower, sources revealed.

Dr Chris Smith, consultant virologist and lecturer at Cambridge University in the UK, said a decision on booster jabs should not be “rash, (or) rushed”.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Dr Smith said: “We all agree that (the pandemic) is not over until it is over in every corner of the world, because otherwise it will just come roaring back.

“Don’t forget we think that this started with a handful of cases in one city, in one corner of one country … and it then eclipsed the entire world.

“But one must not take one’s eye off the ball here because it would be very easy to unstitch all of the good work we’ve done so far if it turns out with time we do lose immunity because the vaccines wane in their effectiveness.

“As we go into winter, now is a critical period and I think that is why we haven’t seen a rash, rushed decision by the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) and the government.”



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