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Sars-cov-2, Omicron, Variant of Concern, Pandemic, Endemic

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For the first time in history, we have witnessed the origin and development of a pandemic. To handle the accelerated accumulation of viral mutations and to comprehend the virus’ evolutionary adaptation in humans, an unparalleled program of genetic sequencing and monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 variants has been undertaken. Several scientists have theorized that, with the Omicron surge producing a more contagious but less severe disease, the end of COVID-19 is near. However, by analyzing the behavior shown by this virus for 2 years, we have noted that pandemic viruses do not always show decreased virulence. Instead, it appears there is an evolutionary equilibrium between transmissibility and virulence. We have termed this concept “intermittent virulence”. The present work analyzes the temporal and epidemiological behavior of SARS-CoV-2 and suggests that there is a high possibility that new virulent variants will arise in the near future, although it is improbable that SARS-CoV-2’s virulence will be the same as was seen during the alpha or delta waves, due to the fact that the human population has reached a sufficient level of herd immunity through natural infection or due to the vaccination programs. The most recent global mortality data raised a question whether this pandemic is really over. Furthermore, it is uncertain when the endemic phase will begin. Darwin’s words: “the survival of the fittest” are still valid, and the virus will continue killing nonvaccinated old people, vaccinated old people, and those with comorbidities. We have underestimated the SARS-CoV-2 mastery of immune escape and have not yet seen the full adaptive potential this virus can develop through natural selection.

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COVID, v. 2, issue 8, p. 1089-1101