What comes after omicron? New COVID variant possible, if not probable

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COVID-19 and its variants are passing the second year of existence inside the U.S., and the pandemic remains far from over. So what comes after the transmission-heavy but symptom-light omicron variant?

Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson said all viruses mutate — that’s how they continue spreading. That means in all likelihood, another variant will crop up and replace omicron. But will that variant be more or less severe than what our population is fighting against now?

Williamson said it’s imperative that we hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

“The best way to think about this is if we can get adequate supplies of oral medication like Paxlovid, we can make this very much like an influenza issue,” Williamson said. “Just like with Tamiflu when people get influenza, that generally helps keep them out of the hospital.”

As enough of the population gets infected with but survives the omicron variant, Williamson said he’s hoping the immunity that comes from getting omicron will help protect people against newer variants and make it harder for the virus to spread.

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