Will Coronavirus Infection Become Seasonal?

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Image: Samado from Pixabay.com

At the moment, the daily increase in the number of cases of coronavirus infection around the world along with the high mortality rate is enough to show that the ongoing health crisis is not ending any time in the coming months.

In addition, health agencies including the World Health Organization have also made it clear that there is a long way to go in getting control over the pandemic and that collaborative effort is required to overcome the public health emergency in the shortest possible time.

Even then, it will take several months to even a year for this to happen. However, control over the virus spread does not mean that the infection will no longer exist when this happens.

A few months ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a prominent member of the White House task force, stated that the virus may never go away.

This is because of the highly contagious nature of the virus. According to current evidence, the infection can spread from one person to another through multiple ways including by coming into physical contact with an infected person or even a surface with the virus.

Additionally, the virus may even spread without any contact at all through airborne transmission after it is released into the air via coughing, sneezing, or just doing normal activities such as singing or talking.

Given that the transmission is so easy, the possibility of eradicating the infection fully from all affected countries is very low. Instead, the present theory regarding the future of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic states that the infection may eventually become an “endemic”.

A disease or a pathogen becoming an endemic means that it will continue to spread in certain areas of the world and is likely to have outbreaks during specific seasons.

Some people may argue that herd immunity can decrease the transmission of the virus, which is achieved when the majority of the world’s population develops antibodies against a pathogen and it is no longer as prevalent and as deadly as before.

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However, for herd immunity to be achieved in real life, it can take months to even years. For instance, global immunity against the influenza virus during the Spanish flu pandemic of the early twentieth century was developed in a time frame of two years.

Now, influenza has become an endemic which means that it still infects a big number of people but is only active during certain parts of the year and is more deadly in specific countries rather than all.

With the novel coronavirus, scientists believe that the future is likely to be similar to the infection prevailing in certain parts of the world where implying effective control strategies is difficult.

Even if the majority develops immunity and a vaccine is developed, there is no overall guarantee that SARS-CoV-2 can be eradicated forever. Many of the killer diseases of the past, such as Tuberculosis or TB, still exist today and the coronavirus infection will also continue to infect people in the future as well.

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