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Still Out There Generating Variants

SARS-CoV-2 is continuing to evolve and sprout new variants as it traipses across the globe, the Washington Post reports.

Most recently, it notes that a new Omicron subvariant, dubbed BA.2.12.1, has emerged that could be 25 percent more transmissible than the currently circulating Omicron variant, which was itself more transmissible than the original Omicron subvariant as well as the Delta and Alpha variants. The Post notes that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this new Omicron subvariant has been rapidly spreading in the Northeast US.

At the same time, the Post writes that researchers in South Africa have identified additional Omicron subvariants — BA.4 and BA.5 — and that initial analyses suggest that these viral variants harbor previously seen mutations associated with immune evasion and may indeed be able to dodge neutralizing antibodies generated in response to infection with the original Omicron variant.

"This virus has probably got tricks we haven't seen yet," Robert Garry from Tulane University tells the Post. "We know it's probably not quite as infectious as measles yet, but it's creeping up there, for sure."

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