נגיף הקורונה
נגיף הקורונה צילום: איסטוק

The Omicron variants may burn themselves out in the next couple of months and the Delta variant might reemerge, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers warn in a new paper.

Their findings were just published in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment.

While Delta wiped out the variants that preceded it, Omicron has not eliminated Delta, according to Prof. Ariel Kushmaro and Dr. Karin Yaniv.

Prof. Kushmaro's lab team has developed sensitive arrays that can differentiate variants from each other in wastewater. Wastewater continues to give indications of where the coronavirus is active, even when PCR and rapid testing of people declines.

They monitored Be'er Sheva's sewage from December 2021 to January 2022 and noticed this disturbing interaction between the Omicron and Delta variants. They also built a model with Prof. Rony Granek, which predicts that Omicron is burning itself out while Delta is just biding its time.

"Of course, there are a lot of factors involved, but our model indicates there could be another outbreak of Delta or another coronavirus variant this summer," warns Prof. Kushmaro.

Additional researchers included: Dr. Eden Ozer and Marilou Shagan from Ben-Gurion University, and Dr. Yossi Paitan from Ilex Labs. Prof. Kushmaro and his team are part of the School of Sustainability and Climate Change and the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering.

The research was supported by the BGU Coronavirus Challenge and the Israeli Ministry of Health.

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