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What if Covid-19 returns like a cold every year?

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New coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is often compared to its close cousin SARS-CoV-1. And for good reason, the virus that caused the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s is, in many ways, the closest virus we are dealing with. Researchers see new viruses as they study for how long Survive on the surface And whether it makes sense to us Wear a mask. It provides a guide on how Case and death curves may bend If we all play our part and are at home. The comparison offers several hopes: Social distance and travel restrictions helped reduce the incidence of SARS in about a year.

But such drastic containment is starting to look much less convincing. Another analogy may be appropriate for predicting the long-term course of Covid-19. What if the virus resembles a lesser-known family member such as HCoV-OC43 or HCoV-HKU1? The name is unfamiliar, but you’ve probably met it before. These viruses cause a cold. It’s also less deadly than SARS or MERS, but at the cost of too much. They season by season, Human immunity that declines over time. That is why we keep catching them over and over again.

Person whipping hands with soap and water

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Ah Paper published on Tuesday Science Public health researchers at Harvard University are exploring the potential and what it means for the long-term spread of Covid-19. Their conclusion is a bit tough. When SARS-CoV-2 follows in the footsteps of these cold bacteria, herd immunity is slow to accumulate and maintain. Immunity develops (if enough members of the population’s immunity are already ill or vaccinated against it and the epidemic has stopped). Until it happens, outbreaks are everyday life. Coupled with the high severity of the virus, repeated socially spaced interventions are necessary to avoid overwhelming the hospital each time.

Researchers at Harvard University have discovered that we may be considering being trapped, at least sometimes for a long time. Think of 2022.

Mark Lipsic, a co-author of the study and a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, said at the press conference Tuesday that the role of seasonality was “certainly not zero.” He warned that seasonal fluctuations are not the same as saying that the virus will disappear in summer. Outbreaks can occur at any time, he said, but what begins in the fall may be more serious. This type of variation can have a significant impact on the timing of social distance measurements.

It’s uncertain whether Covid-19 reflects a cold-borne infection caused by the coronavirus, researchers admit. The virus has been around for just a few months, so it was not possible to directly investigate how it spreads seasonally. In addition, I do not yet know how well immunity works. How long will it last Once established. The Harvard team’s model also relies in part on the rather dark assumption that the scientific community does not develop a cure. vaccine Reduces the burden of viruses on the health system. Everything that can change, researchers say.

Cold-causing coronaviruses were useful for long-term comparisons due to lack of clear data on SARS-CoV-2, said Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto who was not involved in the study. “Will they be the same as SARS-CoV-2? Probably not, it’s another virus,” she says. “But it’s probably the best analogy we need to think about now, especially in the long run.” The paper does a good job outlining uncertainty, she adds. Do what the model does. Helps prepare for the unknown.

In their new study, researchers start with the goal at the heart of all social distance measurements: how to manage the spread of the virus without running out of hospital beds? A computer model was used to reveal potential seasonal variability, using the behavior of HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-HKU1 as a guide, and taking into account what is known about Covid-19’s spread and severity. I chose They found a social distance intervention that, if done at the right time, would likely need to be extended to 2022 to bring the new virus under control. Over time, these interventions diminish, as the herd’s immunity to the virus gradually increases, prolonging the period of relative normality between them, which can decrease in both length and severity. There is a possibility.

The key question to model a potential relapse of the virus is how much of the population gains immunity and how quickly it gets it. Lipsitch believes the Cello Survey will be a good place to start. Wide area Antibody blood test When infected with the virus, public health personnel can directly look at immune problems. First measure the number of people who have the immunity, and finally measure how long the immunity lasts. Longer immunity, or even potentially cross-immunity with other coronaviruses, means that the disease is more quickly counteracted.

Other external factors likewise help reduce the need for social separation. It includes vaccines and better treatments that reduce the number of people receiving intensive care. One of the most important factors in tightening social intervention is the national medical capacity. Researchers say that more beds and staffing could help to quickly reach herd immunity.

It also plays a role in tracking contacts or keeping a record of who the infected person went through. The current belief between epidemiologists and public health authorities is that once the current surge in the U.S. subsides, it will switch to surveillance mode and reopen the economy, but will employ extensive antibody testing to reach out to people. It’s about tracking. Through mobile phone Or an army of public health authorities.

Read the full coronavirus coverage here.

However, the experience of East Asian countries like Singapore First successful I am using contact tracking and segregation, but currently Covid-19 faces case recurrence Bacteria carried by inbound travelers have cast doubt on how long surveillance can keep a line if people aren’t evacuating home. “The problem with this is that it’s very difficult to deal with this infection, as Singapore has probably found it with the world’s best public health system,” Lipsic said. Extensive testing and oversight is important to manage cases that occur at relatively mild times and to alert health authorities of new outbreaks. However, other public health systems, including those in the United States, do not have much of these measures in place and are still trying to control surges. So far in the US, “I think some sort of remote intervention must continue,” he said.

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