Scientist assesses the possible evolution of the "Delta" strain of coronavirus

Scientist estimates possible evolution of the Delta strain of coronavirus

RAS biologist suggests that the Delta strain will be the last variant of COVID-19


The variant of the Delta coronavirus prevailing around the world may be the last variant of COVID-19. This opinion was expressed by Evgeny Kunin, a recognized expert in evolutionary and computational biology, a researcher at the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine, and a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


"The next super strain will probably pop out from somewhere behind Delta's back."

World virology star Eugene Kunin on the million coronavirus genomes analyzed, its "ceiling" for improvement and vaccine efficacy

"The Delta variant has been dominant for some time, about two months, and it certainly represents an island of resistance. The other question is: Is it an island that will be replaced by another, or is it the final island?" - he wondered at the OpenBio biotech forum in the Novosibirsk science city of Koltsovo.


As the scientist explained, viruses adapt more and more as they spread in the host population and at some point stop developing.


"The pathways of passage to higher transmissibility and higher pathogenicity are already much smaller," the specialist noted.


Kunin suggested that the Delta option would be a sort of plateau of coronavirus development.


"I don't want to say that there is any reason to be optimistic or any certainty that the Delta variant is the pinnacle of evolution of this virus, but it is possible to imagine a situation where in a mountainous landscape reflecting the pathogenicity of these viruses, the virus has climbed some kind of plateau and needs to cross wide valleys to get to other, higher ones. This may never happen," the biologist said.


That said, there is no accurate reason to believe that the virus will not move to a new level of development, the scientist stressed.


"A new variant of Delta could emerge as well. Some other variant may emerge that 'pops out from behind.' All of these options exist, but there is no reason for complete gloom either. It's quite possible that this option ['Delta'] is in practice the last one," Kunin summarized.


Earlier, on October 1, Nikolay Kryuchkov, general director of Clinical Excellence Group, candidate of medical sciences and immunologist, spoke about the danger of the Delta strain. In addition, he noted the long dominance of the strain before possible mutations of the virus.


On the same day, a study by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases showed that the coronavirus mutates to quickly and effectively infect people through the air. Scientists compared Alpha and Delta with strains that appeared earlier and found that the virus is capable of evolving for better airborne transmission.


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