The coronavirus is mutating faster, spreading quicker and claiming many lives across the world. Researchers are still grappling with the virus and the healthcare networks are struggling with galloping infections and deaths.
Specialists keep trying to classify specific mutants as more dangerous or more lethal, but viral evolution is a random mess: a complex story that we have to watch in real time and most importantly we can't be complacent and say oh God this is the end of mutations!
Moreover, as I mentioned in previous articles, as long as the virus has a host for infection which is us, it will continue to change shape in ways we cannot fully predict. We should consider our role as humans in this relationship. Perhaps what the virus can achieve also depends a lot on us, which means that its evolution is linked to our actions.
Perhaps most importantly, our relationship with the virus will not depend only on its genetic properties but also on the immunity defenses, which will shape its evolution. Let us hope universal vaccination across age groups will slow down the spread of the virus.
Multiple vaccines will also stop the virus mutations. The reality is that eventually, as our collective defenses increase, the coronavirus may no longer be a nuisance than the common cold, causing only transient and insignificant symptoms in most people, who will acquire antibodies.
However, we must also be realistic. The number of infections and deaths due to the coronavirus in 2021 is more than in 2020. If newer strains appear we may need to administer booster shots for people who are fully vaccinated.
It is necessary for us to prepare for the future and procure additional quantities of the vaccines to cover booster dose inoculation.
Apart from vaccines, we must focus on other measures that can control Covid-19 such as better ventilation, rapid, large-scale testing and better face masks. We have seen the great and wonderful role of Oman’s Ministry of Health when it launched a mobile app and smart device to track Covid-19 cases.
We must also be prepared to face new and improved variants that get harder and harder to contain. Our actions will determine whether the new mutants will be ferocious or mild.
(The author is a physician, a medical innovator and a writer)