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COVID-19 Is Here To Stay : Experts' Take On How The Pandemic Will End

COVID-19 Is Here To Stay : Experts' Take On How The Pandemic Will End

Many of us are excited to see the end of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We want our pre-pandemic life back where we can talk without masks, gather without worrying about infection, and live without the fear of getting hospitalized. However, experts say the COVID-19 disease is here to stay – even after we reach herd immunity. Here’s how we live with it.

Like The Common Cold, It Seems Like COVID-19 is Here to Stay

In the 1980s, there was a small study involving several doctors and 15 volunteers. The doctors deliberately infected the participants with 229E, a strand of coronavirus known to result in colds. Out of the 15 volunteers, 10 acquired the infection but only 8 developed the symptoms.

A year later, the doctors tracked down all the volunteers save for one. Again, they intentionally infected them with 229E. This time, only 6 of those who got infected in the previous research, got the infection again, however, none of them developed the symptoms.

From these, the researchers concluded that the immunity from 229E diminishes over time, reinfections are common, and subsequent infections produce mild to no symptoms at all.

Now, experts believe that in the future, COVID-19 will be like 229E: constantly around to infect people, but not something we have to fear.

COVID-19: From a Pandemic to Endemic

An endemic disease is consistently present within a certain geographical location. This also means lower and more predictable number of cases. Case in point, malaria is endemic to certain parts of the world: it’s there, but generally, it’s not a cause of alarm.

As mentioned above, experts believe that COVID-19 will end up becoming an endemic disease: it will always be there, and, similar to the small experiment, people will probably get infected with it not just once. Many experts even believe that everyone will get infected eventually.

The good news is, subsequent infections might not be as severe as the previous ones. Still, we can’t be too sure. After all, the severity of infection takes into consideration the variant itself and the immunity people get from recovering from the infection and vaccination.

Finally, scientists believe that in the future, COVID-19 will be like the flu. The risk is there, but so is the option of vaccination. And just as the flu virus mutates to escape immunity, SARS-Cov-2 will do the same.

How We’ll Get There is Unclear

The pandemic will end and the transition to endemicity will happen. Health experts are sure of it. But when and how it will end, they’re not certain.

For one, they expect the SARS-CoV-2 virus to mutate. Remember how, after massive vaccination efforts, some parts of the world regained a kind of normalcy, but then the Delta variant came and surges started happening again.

Then, there are also issues about variants that “resist” vaccines, such as the Lambda and Omicron variants. We don’t hear about the Lambda now, but Omicron is quickly becoming a threat, what with its numerous mutations.

And finally, let’s not forget vaccine hesitancy: many people are still doubtful about whether or not they should get the jab. Some feel the development was too rushed and that the shots are unsafe. Others would rather risk getting the infection than get vaccinated.

So, the endemicity of COVID-19 depends on the behavior of the virus and our response to it.

What Can You Do For Now?

For now, the best thing we can do is follow health protocols: perform frequent handwashing, wear masks, and practice physical distancing at all times. Of course, get vaccinated when it’s your turn. If you have doubts and fears about COVID-19 vaccines, don’t hesitate to talk to your physicians.

Key Takeaways

Experts believe that COVID-19 is here to stay – even after we reach herd immunity. They believe that it will be endemic: constantly there in some areas, but not something that should raise alarm.

However, exactly when the pandemic will end, scientists cannot say. Generally, it depends on how the virus behaves and our response to it. For now, our best weapons are following the health protocols and getting the vaccine when it’s our turn.

Learn more about Coronaviruses here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

The Coronavirus Is Here Forever. This Is How We Live With It.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/08/how-we-live-coronavirus-forever/619783/
Accessed August 23, 2021

What’s the difference between a pandemic, an epidemic, endemic, and an outbreak?
https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/live-well/2020/04/whats-the-difference-between-a-pandemic-an-epidemic-endemic-and-an-outbreak/
Accessed August 23, 2021

Another common cold virus?
https://news.psu.edu/story/650286/2021/03/09/research/another-common-cold-virus
Accessed August 23, 2021

Delta infections among vaccinated likely contagious; Lambda variant shows vaccine resistance in lab
https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/delta-infections-among-vaccinated-likely-contagious-lambda-variant-shows-vaccine-2021-08-02/
Accessed August 23, 2021

COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols
https://www.usm.edu/student-health-services/covid-19-health-protocols.php
Accessed August 23, 2021

Covid is here for good, scientists say. The rest remains unpredictable., https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/is-covid-here-to-stay-endemic-rcna9559, Accessed December 27, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Apr 22
Medically reviewed by Michael Henry Wanat