On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) first described a mutant of the Covid virus then just identified in South Africa as “a variant of concern.” In less than a month, it has overcome declining Delta to become the dominant strain in the United States.
On Darwinian grounds, one may reasonably expect that a given strain of virus will evolve in the direction of greater contagion, but lesser virulence. Viruses thrive best both when they have as many hosts as possible and when they are not a threat to the life of their hosts.
Thus far, what is known about the new variant, “omicron,” fits with that hypothesis. It differs from the early forms of Covid in that it is both more infectious and less deadly.
In Pill Form:
Meanwhile, back in South Africa, where this variant was first noted, there has been good news: at least, provisionally good news. The numbers from most provinces in that country show that newly recorded cases of people ill with the omicron variant are on the decline. So it is reasonable to hope, if not yet to expect, that the latest variant is a quickly broken fever.