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COVID-19 never disappears and can turn into mild discomfort

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File-This January 21, 2021 file photo shows the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Mecca, CA. Completely away. (AP Photo / Jae C. Hong, File)

ANIRUDDHAGHOSAL and CHRISTINALAR SONAP communication

New Delhi (AP) — What if COVID-19 does not disappear?

Experts say that some versions of the disease are likely to remain for years. However, it is not very clear what it will be like in the future.

Will the coronavirus, which has already killed more than 2 million people worldwide, be eventually eliminated by global vaccination campaigns like smallpox? Do Dangerous New Variants Avoid Vaccines? Or does the virus stick for a long time and turn into a mild discomfort like a cold?

Eventually, the virus, known as SARS-CoV-2, will join many other infectious diseases that humans have learned to live with, and will become “another animal in the zoo,” studying the virus. Dr. T. Jacob John predicted. Steering India’s efforts to tackle polio and HIV / AIDS.

But no one knows for sure. The virus is evolving rapidly and new variants are emerging in different countries. The risks of these new variants were highlighted when Novavax Inc. discovered that its vaccine did not work well against the variants distributed in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Experts say that the more the virus spreads, the more likely it is that new variants will be able to circumvent current tests, treatments and vaccines.

For now, scientists agree on their immediate priorities. Immunize as many people as possible as soon as possible. The next step is less certain and depends largely on the strength of the immunity provided by the vaccine and the natural infection and how long it lasts.

“Do people get infected frequently and repeatedly? We don’t have enough data yet to know,” said Jeffrey Sherman, a virus researcher at Columbia University. Like many researchers, he believes vaccines are unlikely to give lifelong immunity.

When humans have to learn to live with COVID-19, the nature of their coexistence depends not only on the duration of immunity, but also on how the virus evolves. Does it mutate significantly each year and require an annual injection like the flu? Or does it pop up every few years?

This question of what will happen next attracted Jenny Ravin, a virologist at Emory University, who co-authored a recent paper in science that predicted a relatively optimistic scenario: most people vaccine. After being exposed to the virus by vaccination or a surviving infection — the pathogen “continues to circulate, but in most cases only causes mild illness, such as a normal cold.”

The immunity gained from other coronaviruses such as colds, SARS, and MERS weakens over time, but reinfection symptoms tend to be milder than the initial illness, a science paper studying the virus. Co-author Otter Bjornstad said. At Pennsylvania State University.

“Adults tend to be less ill if they are already exposed,” he said.

Scientific paper predictions are based on an analysis of how other coronaviruses behaved over time, assuming that SAR-CoV-2 will continue to evolve, but not rapidly or radically. doing.

The 1918 influenza pandemic may provide clues about the course of COVID-19. The pathogen was not the coronavirus, but the H1N1 virus, which has a gene derived from birds. At that time, there was no vaccine. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one-third of the world’s population is infected. Eventually, the virus stopped spreading rapidly after the infected people died or developed immunity. After that, it mutated into a less toxic form and, according to experts, continues to circulate seasonally.

“Very generally, the offspring of an influenza pandemic will be the milder seasonal influenza virus we experience over the years,” said Stephen Morse, who studies the virus at Columbia University.

It is not yet clear how future mutations in SARS-CoV-2 will shape the trajectory of the current disease.

Mark Jit, who studies the virus at the London School of London, said scientists would say the future of the virus when new variants emerge (which may be highly contagious, highly virulent, and less responsive to vaccines). I remember how much I still don’t know about. Hygiene and tropical medicine.

“We only know about this virus for about a year, so we don’t have data yet to show its behavior over five or ten years,” he said.

Of the more than 12 billion coronavirus vaccinations in 2021, developed countries have purchased about 9 billion, and many have the option to purchase more. Ian McKay, a virus researcher at the University of Queensland, said the inequality is a threat because poor countries spend more time waiting for vaccines, while the disease continues to spread and kills people.

Ashley St. John, who studies the immune system at Duke-NUS Medical, is worried that some vaccines may appear to be less effective against new strains, but because Shot provides some protection. It can be used to slow or stop the spread of the virus. School in Singapore.

Dr. Gagandeep Kang, an infectious disease expert at Christian Medical College in Velor, southern India, said the evolution of the virus raises new questions. At what stage does the virus become a new strain? Does the country need to redo vaccination from the beginning? Or can you give a booster dose?

“These are the questions you have to deal with in the future,” Kang said.

The future of coronavirus may be in contrast to other highly contagious diseases that have been largely defeated by vaccines that provide lifelong immunity, such as measles. After many people have been vaccinated, the spread of measles diminishes.

However, because the newborn changes dynamically over time, outbreaks tend to occur cyclically, explained Dr. Jayaprakash Muriil, who studies epidemics and advises India on virus surveillance.

Unlike measles, children infected with COVID-19 do not always show definite symptoms and can infect vulnerable adults. That means countries can’t relax their vigilance, he said.

Another unclear point is the long-term effects of COVID-19 on patients who are alive but incapacitated for several months.

“Quantifying this damage” (the number of people who are unable to do physical labor or are exhausted and unable to concentrate) is the key to understanding the full consequences of this disease.

“There aren’t many illnesses that have affected people on this scale,” she said.


Larson reported from Washington.


The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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