07 December 2021

More thoughts on omicron and the possible future of COVID

Still too early to draw any conclusions or make plans based on these reports, but here is another report indicating that clinicians on the ground are finding the Omicron variant more contagious but less severe. "Contagious" may include vaccine resistant, but that's not as clear. 

One thing that may not be particularly intuitive is that, generally, extreme pathogenic virulence confers no selective advantage on a virus or other pathogen. A less deadly form of the same organism may, in fact usually does, survive better, because killing your hosts is not usually a recipe for long term genotype survival. So it may well happen, as has often happened in the past, that a form that is more transmissible, and more immune resistant, but substantially less virulent, may come to dominate, with the long term effect that the pandemic recedes into the realm of troublesome but not particularly lethal or economically devastating illnesses such as colds and (mostly) flu. Sure, flu kills a lot of people every year, but we've adapted to thinking of that as background, for better or worse. If COVID were to evolve into a state where nearly everyone got it one or more times in their life but only one in 100,000 died from it, again, for better or worse, we would just live with that and get on with other concerns. 

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