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What is Covid-22?

THE coronavirus pandemic has changed the world and the way it functions.

Since the first Covid case was detected in Wuhan, China, in 2019, world health officials are continuously battling to bring the world closer to normality.

What is Covid-22?

An immunologist caused a firestorm on social media after predicting the arrival of "Covid-22," a hypothetical coronavirus variant that he claims could be more serious than already-known mutations such as the Delta and Delta Plus strains.

The so-called Covid-22 variant could arrive next year if current variants of concern mutate, posing a risk to the end of the pandemic, said Sai Reddy, an associate professor of systems and synthetic immunology at ETH Zürich.

While speaking to the German newspaper Blick, Reddy predicted that “Covid-22 could get worse than what we are witnessing now”.

He added: “If such a variant appears, we have to recognize it as early as possible and the vaccine manufacturers have to adapt the vaccine quickly.”

Reddy claims that a new, more deadly Covid-19 variant, which he calls “Covid-22”, is "inevitable".

“There are the well-known variants Beta from South Africa and Gamma from Brazil,” he told the outlet.

“Both have developed escape mutations: they can partially avoid the antibodies. Delta, on the other hand, is much more contagious but has so far not developed any escape mutations.”

Reddy fears that a variant will emerge that combines both properties

“It is the next phase of the pandemic when Beta or Gamma become more infectious, or Delta develops escape mutations.”

However, to date, "Covid-22" does not exist.

What did Twitter users say about 'Covid-22'?

The immunologist's misinterpretation caused a frenzy on social media as "COVID22" began trending on Twitter.

One Twitterer wrote: "Waking up this morning seeing #COVID22 trending. It’s way too early for another Covid remix to drop…"

Another person tweeted: "COVID22 trending… and me only now getting over anxiety of leaving the house because of #COVID19…"

A third user chimed in and wrote: "Me panicking over this hashtag #COVID22. The past year has caused my anxiety to reach new levels."

Meanwhile, a fourth person tweeted: "WHY IS #COVID22 TRENDING IM GONNA CRY."

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