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Does COVID-19 become a seasonal illness? What we know now



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How long do I need to wear a mask? For some time, as experts say, COVID-19 can become a seasonal illness. Getty Images
  • New studies suggest that COVID-19 may develop into seasonal disease when herd immunity is achieved.
  • However, some experts say it can be difficult to immunize the herd.
  • They say vaccines are the best way to achieve community-wide immunity.
  • They also say it is important to develop a vaccine that helps treat COVID-19 and prevent it.

Dr. Howard Forman I have been working in the field of public health for 22 years.

Forman is a professor at Yale University in Connecticut, teaching public health. He also runs the Yale University Healthcare Curriculum and works as a Health Policy Officer in the US Senate.

But he has never seen anything COVID-19 (new coronavirus infection) (# If there is no character limit, add parentheses when it first appears..

Tracking the data during this pandemic, Forman said scientists are still learning how this nasty virus works.

“We know very little,” said Forman, an emergency / trauma radiologist practitioner.

“We need to absorb as much as we can and use this information to make the best decisions,” he told Healthline. “We learn a lot of lessons from this outbreak, and it’s not stupid enough to think we have all the answers now.”

A good example is the new COVID-19 Research review It was published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health today.

This review suggests that COVID-19 is likely to be seasonal in countries with warm climates.

However, researchers note that this only occurs after the herd’s immunity has been achieved — this may take years.

By that time, the authors state that COVID-19 will continue to be in circulation over the seasons.

Dr. Hassan Racket |The lead author of the study, an assistant professor at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, said these conclusions emphasize the importance of public health measures to control the virus.

The author states, “People need to learn how to coexist with it and continue to implement the best precautions, including wearing masks, physical distance, hand hygiene, and avoiding meetings.”

Forman disagrees with the conclusions of the review, submitted in May and published today.

“I think the author wrote and commented at a difficult time. There were few unmitigated outbreaks,” Forman said.

“So, has Brazil started to get better as winter has begun? Or is it because they have taken action? Is India worsening because of the heat or the declining summer? In Italy and Spain Outbreaks suggest that bad outbreaks can begin between the worst of winter and the peak of summer, “he said.

“I think we need more time and data to come to a conclusion about this particular coronavirus,” Forman added.

As scientists learn more, COVID-19 will obviously change things rapidly.

“I think we all need to be humble,” Forman said. “I was in medical school when the AIDS crisis began. I am the brother of a survivor of congenital rubella. Infectious diseases shape my life in these and other ways.”

“I agree with Dr. Forman that this is still an ongoing pandemic,” Zarakett told Healthline. “Therefore, I learned a lot about SARS-CoV-2 and its illnesses, but there are still many unknowns.”

Zaraket also said that the climate now appears to play a minimal role in the SARS-CoV-2 cycle, as evidenced by the second wave of illness that countries are dealing with in the Northern Hemisphere during the summer. I also agreed. This is due to the fact that the population as a whole is susceptible to the virus and can easily spread and overcome climatic conditions. ”

But Zaracket added that scientists agree that herd immunity reduces the transmission of the virus, and this is what we suggest that the disease causes more seasonal changes. It will make it easier.

SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain, but “shares similar properties to other common cold coronaviruses, including HKU1 strains belonging to the same strain (such as betacoronavirus).”

“The reason we believe that SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate after the development of herd immunity includes the tendency of the virus to mutate and evade immunity,” he adds. It was. “Vaccines are not 100% effective, immunity weakens over time, and reinfections occur, although still rare.”

In fact, he goes on to say, “Reinfections have been shown to occur frequently with other seasonal coronavirus strains.”

Zarakett explained that the journal article on the seasonality of respiratory viruses and the properties of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 is “a review paper based on what is known, not a major study.” ..

He said the virus would be seasonal, but “only after the herd’s immunity has been achieved, it is expected to reduce the transmission rate of the virus.”

Zaraket said the Food and Drug Administration expects the COVID-19 vaccine to protect at least 50 percent of people vaccinated from infections or serious illnesses.

“Therefore, there may be moderately effective vaccines approved, but they will still help mitigate the pandemic,” Zaraket said.

Dr. Robert Turner CoolieAn infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, the virus predicts a high likelihood of a winter epidemic.

He told the health line that there were two reasons for this.

“First, as people move indoors, contact with more people is likely to become apparent in situations where the virus can be transmitted from person to person in an aerosol-accumulating environment,” Scree said. He said.

“Second, as aerosol scientists tell us, aerosols and droplets dry much faster in low humidity conditions, such as in a heated room,” he said.

“When water is sucked up from an aerosol, the individual particles become lighter and stay in the air for longer, which increases the time it takes to pass from person to person,” he said.

Schooley explained that “seasonality” becomes more apparent when the community is well-immunized and significantly reduces infections under less intense exposure conditions.

“Currently, the immune system is so weak that it is easy to find that the virus infects non-immune people under summer conditions,” he said.

Another factor to consider is an increase in reports of reinfection as immunity to this virus rapidly weakens and the first wave of infection from the spring of 2020 is behind us.

“Therefore, the virus behaves like the other three common coronaviruses that have existed in human populations for hundreds of years,” he said.

“As immunity to previous infections weakens, individuals are more likely to re-infect,” he said. “When a sufficient number of populations are sufficiently vulnerable, a new wave of infectious diseases will dominate the population.”

Schoolley said other coronaviruses, such as OC43 and 229 strains, cause “relatively trivial illnesses,” and human populations see waves passing through most of the population every three to four years. I explained that.

The immunity of the entire population is effectively strengthened with each wave.

What vaccination does to correct infection rates depends on the effectiveness of the vaccine brought into the human population, both in terms of short-term and long-term efficacy, Scourley said.

“We’ve seen innate immunity weaken fast enough for people to reinfect within a few months. There’s little reason to believe anything, but our first-generation vaccines are powerful. It is more effective than natural infections in inducing durable immunity, “he said.

For the foreseeable future, Mr. Scourie predicted. I’m watching now Europe And when people return to pre-SARS-CoV-2 levels of interaction, the rest of the world. “

Forman said that although scientists are different, it is important to have an open discussion, especially when it comes to misunderstood issues such as herd immunity.

It’s a term that’s often used these days. But what exactly is herd immunity?

It occurs when a sufficiently large proportion of people in the community are immune to the disease, which stops the spread of the disease.

This only happens through widespread vaccination against the disease, or when many people get the disease and eventually build immunity to it.

Herd immunity is supported by some experts in the field of science.

Scott W AtlasHe is a senior researcher at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, a former director of the Department of Neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center, and one of President Trump’s latest medical advisors.

He reportedly adopted herd immunity as a strategy to combat the pandemic.

Atlas and the White House denied they supported herd immunity, but he reportedly Said June Fox News that “misinformation has spread” about herd immunity.

“Actually, in a population with enough infected people, it doesn’t matter because these people have no problems with the infection. That’s not a bad thing,” he said.

Then in July Atlas Said Fox News Radio: “When quarantining everyone, including all healthy people, the problem is protracted because it prevents artificial immunity. Groups with a low risk of infection are not a problem. In fact, it is positive. is.”

Atlas reportedly wanted the United States to do essentially what Sweden did, which did not order any blockades or close many schools and businesses.

But Sweden’s efforts I failed to get the flock immunized. Sweden is currently one of the most infected countries in the world per capita.

Most scientists interviewed about this story said that pursuing herd immunity in the United States allowed the virus to spread to most populations, killing hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions. I agreed.

Schooley told Healthline that safe and effective drugs could also affect the virus.

“We’re seeing significant advances in drugs,” he said. “And from the illnesses we knew in the early to mid-1980s to the present, when HIV is well contained in accessible locations for antiretroviral therapy, HIV drug therapy and behavior. It must be remembered that the combination of changes is a combination. It is not disturbed. “

Scoury also said that long-acting, orally-administered drugs can have a significant impact on the epidemiology and morbidity and mortality of SARS-CoV-2 and are as passionate about investing in development as vaccines. I need to. ”

However, vaccines and drugs are not the same thing.

Vaccines are given to people who have never been sick to elicit an immune response against pathogens (bacteria, viruses, parasites) and are less likely to get infected or get sick if infected. .. Infectious agent in question.

Medications are generally given to people who are already ill or have the virus and help them recover.

“There are rare exceptions,” Scourie said. “Some drugs, such as antibiotics, are used to prevent infection, but this is much less common than giving drugs to treat people who are already infected.”

In the case of HIV, Scourie concludes: “There is no effective vaccine, but there are drugs that can be used to prevent infection. If vaccine development is stalled, the same may ultimately apply to SARS-CoV-2.”


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