Scientists believe that SARS-CoV-2 will likely continue to be a circulating respiratory disease and cause frequent, less deadly wavelets. The increasing number of wavelets seems very different from the slower, annual circulation patterns of influenza and cold-causing coronaviruses. Rapid mutation and short-lived human immunity are likely preventing SARS-CoV-2 from settling into seasonal patterns of circulation. Instead, it is causing wavelets that are less deadly but still cause large numbers of infections.
According to recent studies of the new COVID-19 surge in India, SARS-CoV-2 has undergone rapid evolution, leading to the emergence of various lineages with competitive advantages over each other. Co-infection with multiple SARS-CoV-2 lineages can result in the formation of new recombinant lineages. Currently, the XBB lineage is the most prevalent recombinant lineage globally, and the newly identified XBB.1.16 (Arcturus) lineage is responsible for a surge in COVID-19 cases in India.
However, neither XBB nor XBB.1.16 have lead to a great uptick in hospitalisations compared to previous variants , although it is concerning that XBB.1.16 is demonstrating a tendency to evade immunity.