COVID-22? A forecast for variants, not names


ST. LOUIS, Mo. – What is COVID-22? Well, the term started trending on search and social media late Monday night. And the reactions on Twitter are really something. More on that below.

The source of the term is an article appearing in the Swiss tabloid named Blick with the title “Covid-22 could get worse.” Scientist Sai Reddy says that rates of vaccinations are not high enough worldwide and new variants are likely to develop.

“It is inevitable. It is the next phase of the pandemic when Beta or Gamma become more infectious or Delta develops escape mutations. That will be the big problem for the coming year. Covid-22 could get worse than what we are experiencing now,” Reddy tells reporter Danny Schlumpf.

Reddy uses a naming convention that is not a standard in the scientific community. COVID-19 is named after the year the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) was discovered. The World Health Organization says it is related to a strain responsible for the 2003 SARS outbreak. But, the virus does not get a new name or number with each passing year.

It is also important to note that this is 2021, not 2022. So, you really can’t name a future virus without the use of a time machine. But, Reddy was making some predictions about the future of the disease. He warns, “We will dance with the virus for a long time. Probably for years, maybe for the rest of our lives.”

So, what did the internet do when this headline went viral? Predictably, it generated a multitude of silly memes:

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