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China’s ‘bat woman” says new variants of coronavirus will continue to emerge

Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli (Image: BBC)

China’s top virologist Shi Zhengli, also known as "the bat woman,” has said the world should be prepared to live with a continuing stream of coronavirus variants for the foreseeable future, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.

Shi who heads the Wuhan lab from where the coronavirus outbreak first occurred, said: "As the number of infected cases has just become too big, this allowed the novel coronavirus more opportunities to mutate and select.”

Because of the virus's evolving variants, Shi emphasized that members of the public should not hesitate to get vaccinated.

Shi is the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. The pandemic was caused by a manufactured coronavirus that leaked from the institute, according to some theories.

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According to Shi’s findings, the virus most likely started in Chinese horseshoe bats before spreading to humans.

The highly contagious Delta mutation is the one that is the dominating strain right now. Delta, which is more contagious than the initial strain, is one of the main causes of the recent rise of viral infections in countries such as the United States and India.

The USA presently the worst hit as there has been a resistance to vaccines by a large section of the population. The country has now started reporting over 100,000 cases a day due to the surge in the Delta variant.

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According to health experts, the existing immunizations provide enough protection against COVID-19, which is caused by Delta.

Indian experts are also of the view that vaccination is a must to contain the virus as the longer it spreads the more it will mutate.

Scientists fear that it may even mutate into strains against which existing vaccines may not be effective. This would bring the situation back to square one as new vaccines would then have to be found.

Already there are some scientists who are of the view that booster shots may be necessary to check the spread of coronavirus.