SARS-CoV-2 evolution in the Omicron era

Since SARS-CoV-2 BA.5 (Omicron) emerged and spread in 2022, Omicron lineages have markedly diversified. Here we review the evolutionary trajectories and processes that underpin the emergence of these lineages, and identify the most prevalent sublineages. We discuss the potential origins of second-generation BA.2 lineages. Simple and complex recombination, antigenic drift and convergent evolution have enabled SARS-CoV-2 to accumulate mutations that alter its antigenicity. We also discuss the potential evolutionary trajectories of SARS-CoV-2 in the future.