HERE TO STAY

Like the common cold, Covid-19 will become endemic

In Summary
  • SARS-Cov-2 will continue to spread in pockets globally, causing new outbreaks in countries or regions where public health experts believe it had been eliminated
  • But the good news is that illness and death will not continue at the scale we have witnessed in the past year

More than one year into the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly 2.6 million have died and about 117 million have been infected. An estimated 66 million have recovered, a many of whom are now living with the long-term effects of Covid-19.

That vaccines are now available is very good news. Everyone is excited. Most of us imagine that with a combination of vaccination and immunity through natural infection we can rid the world of SARS-Cov-2. In north America and Europe, there is a deep longing for summer. Businesses are upbeat. The economy, especially, needs the shot in the arm.

I have news for you. The coronavirus will not be eradicated. The virus will in fact become endemic, like influenza and the four coronaviruses that cause the common cold. SARS-Cov-2 will continue to spread in pockets globally, causing new outbreaks in countries or regions where public health experts believe it had been eliminated.

But the good news is that illness and death will not continue at the scale we have witnessed in the past year. Our societies, through annual vaccinations and acquired immunity through infections, will endure new outbreaks.

These predictions come from a survey of more than 100 immunologists, infectious disease researchers and virologists working on coronavirus. According to the survey conducted by the journal Nature, nearly 90 per cent of scientists think that SARS-Cov-2 is very likely or likely to become endemic.

According to University of Minnesota epidemiologist, Michael Osterholm, eradicating the coronavirus is “a lot like trying to plan the construction of a stepping-stone to the moon.”

Scientist argue that in the regions where it is eliminated, there would be an abiding risk of Covid-19 outbreaks, which could be rapidly contained through herd immunity, public health measures are annual or seasonal vaccinations. But

However, about a third thought it was possible to eliminate the coronavirus from some regions of the world. Scientist argue that in the regions where it is eliminated, there would be an abiding risk of Covid-19 outbreaks, which could be rapidly contained through herd immunity, public health measures are annual or seasonal vaccinations. But the risk of re-introduction from countries where vaccine coverage and public health measures have not been robust remains.

Moreover, while there is evidence that Covid-19 vaccines will prevent severe illness, it remains unclear how effective the vaccines will be at reducing transmission. The evidence that vaccines that prevent asymptomatic infection might also prevent transmission is still not conclusive.

In a SARS-Cov-2 endemic world the virus will be among the very first cause of illness encountered in early childhood. According to scientists, this is how the four endemic coronaviruses that cause the common cold behave.

Models show that most children come down with these viruses before the age of six and develop immunity. Hence it is likely that years from now, when the pandemic is forgotten, a child in school with a running nose will likely be infected with a variant of SARS-Cov-2.

Scientists conclude that it is hard to predict the path SARS-Cov-2 will take to become endemic. Public health measures such as social-distancing, handwashing and the use of mask must remain in place at country level until at least 55 percent of the population has been vaccinated.