Dozens of researchers, including myself, worked for years to uncover that swine flu had leapt to humans from a pig in Mexico in 2009. We learned a lot about influenza evolution, pig farming, and outbreak risk along the way.
Preliminary data suggest that the newly dubbed Omicron variant may be more infectious than previous versions of the virus, but it will take time to obtain the reliable data needed to answer pressing questions about its biology.
Humanity was hoping to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic this year. But viruses have plenty of tools at their disposal, and we should plan for a long-term future in which SARS-CoV-2 is a persistent threat.