COVID-19 Could Become the New Cold: Experts Predict Virus Will Stay But Get Weaker Over Time
- Public health experts believe COVID-19 is likely to become an endemic disease meaning it is always present in the population but circulating at slow rates
- Recently, a new model looked at studies of the four common cold coronaviruses, all of which infect most people at a young age
- The model assumed that the immunity people build up against the novel coronavirus is comparable to that of other coronaviruses
- It found that the infection-fatality rate will continue to decline over time until it falls below 0.1%, similar to that of the seasonal flu.
- This means that many people would become infected with COVID-19 while conferring some immunity against serious illness, but not necessarily against reinfection.
Coronavirus can become a seasonal illness, like the flu, that never goes away and lasts forever.
At the start of the pandemic, public health experts had hoped that vaccines would help eradicate the virus, turning it into a disease like smallpox.
Now members of the medical community believe that COVID-19 is likely to become an endemic disease, meaning it will always be present in the population but circulate at low rates.
This will lead to many people being exposed as children and developing a degree of immunity, which will protect them from serious illness, but not necessarily reinfection.
Recently, a new model looked at studies of the four common cold coronaviruses, all of which infect most people at a young age (above), and assumed that people who build up against the novel coronavirus are similar to those of other coronaviruses.
It found that COVID-19’s infection-fatality rate (red line, top left and top right) will continue to drop below 0.1% over time, similar to that of the seasonal flu, meaning it is an endemic disease. can become.
This coronavirus will be there to stay, ”Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, told ABC News.
‘Eradication of this new coronavirus is in principle impossible.’
He believes that a combination of vaccinations and natural immunity from previous infection will be enough to prevent spikes for years and decades to come.
“The hope is that with enough natural immunity and immunizations, this will become part of the natural cold season cycle, but not have the same impact,” Brownstein said.
His comments are consistent with a recent model that predicted that the virus would continue to circulate, but that vaccines would limit its transmission and reduce serious effects.
The model, published in the magazine Science, looked at studies of the four common cold coronaviruses, all of which infect most people at a young age.
Getting infected in childhood would provide some immunity, for example, against serious illness, but not necessarily against reinfection.
Natural infection in childhood provides immunity that protects people from serious illnesses later in life, but it does not prevent periodic reinfection ‘
‘Re-infection is possible within a year, but even if it does occur, the symptoms are mild and the virus is cleared from the body more quickly,’ said Jennie Lavine, a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University, in a statement. statement
It emphasizes the need to disassemble the components of immunity to SARS-CoV-2. How long does immunity that prevents pathology last, and how long does immunity last that prevents transmission? These maturities can be very different. ‘
The model assumed that the immunity people build up against the novel coronavirus is comparable to that of other coronaviruses.
This is especially seen in young children, in whom serious infection and death are very rare.
It predicted that infection-fatality rate will continue to fall below 0.1 percent over time, similar to that of the seasonal flu.
“ A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine could save hundreds of thousands of lives in the first year or two of the vaccine’s introduction, but continued mass vaccination may be less critical once SARS-CoV-2 becomes endemic, ” said study co-author Dr. Ottar Bjornstad, senior professor of entomology and biology at Penn State. in a statement.
“But targeted vaccination in vulnerable subpopulations can still save lives.”