Story at a glance:
- Shi Zhengli told Chinese state media that the virus will continue to mutate.
- The delta variant was first discovered in India and is now the dominant strain of COVID-19.
- Scientists are also monitoring the lambda variant, which is becoming a prominent strain in South America.
The head of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) warned Thursday that the coronavirus virus will continue to mutate, and urged people to continue to get vaccinated.
Virologist Shi Zhengli told the South China Morning Post that the world will need to prepare to coexist with the virus as it continues to mutate and spread across the globe.
“As the number of infected cases has just become too big, this allowed the novel coronavirus more opportunities to mutate and select,” Shi said, according to the South China Morning Post. “New variants will continue to emerge.”
The delta variant has quickly become the dominant COVID-19 strain and is driving a surge in cases around the world. Scientists are also monitoring the lambda variant, which is becoming a prominent strain in South America.
In the U.S., for instance, the delta variant accounts for 75 to 80 percent of cases in the Midwest and upper mountain states as of July, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and reporting from Healthline.
In July, the CDC warned in an internal document that the delta variant could cause more severe illness and spread as easily as chickenpox, stating: “the war has changed.”
Michael Osterholmm, the director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Newsweek that “a delta on steroids” could also possibly emerge.
Shi and her role at the Wuhan Institute of Virology have been met with skepticism from many, particularly among Republican leaders in the U.S. A recent Republican-led investigation from the House Foreign Affairs Committee alleges that Shi, along with other researchers and officials associated with the lab, lied about the origins of COVID-19 and worked to cover up the leak of the virus and the research being done at the lab.
Shi has previously called similar rumors “baseless.”
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