The Pandemic Will End, but We’re Probably Stuck With the Coronavirus
April 22, 2021
The novel coronavirus may never be eradicated, but Neal D. Goldstein, PhD, assistant research professor, and Michael LeVasseur, PhD, assistant teaching professor, both infectious disease epidemiologists and faculty members in the Dornsife School of Public Health, authored a guest post for the Drexel News Blog that gives us hope.
Many scientists believe that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, will become “endemic.” It will seasonally circulate in a similar fashion to the other common respiratory viruses, such as those that cause the common cold or flu. If this bears out, there will not be a true end to the pandemic (with accompanying ticker tape parade down Broad Street), but a gradual transition, to an illness that we will have to live with.
This should not come as a complete surprise, as this is the world we have always lived in. History offers many examples of scourges that have become endemic in human populations. Flu is one example. After the last pandemic, in 2009 with the H1N1 strain, the virus became seasonal. Some seasons it is more prevalent than others and our flu vaccines are adjusted accordingly.
If the public has become institutionalized to a pandemic mindset of our own doing, we share in the responsibility to undo and mitigate the collateral damage that has occurred.
Lessons abound from diseases that have captured worldwide attention that we now live with: Zika, HIV, H1N1 influenza. What will this look like? There will be ongoing refinement of therapies, including vaccination, as well as continued tracking of cases. Health care workers have gotten much better at treating and managing COVID-19. Mortality is down, despite cases going up. We also have a highly effective vaccination, one of the true marvels of the pandemic, which is available to everyone aged 16 and older, with even younger people likely eligible soon.
Yet there are many unknowns. How many people will choose to vaccinate? How effective are the vaccines in the long run? How often will we need “booster” shots? Will we see an ebb and flow of COVID-19 in the colder, dryer months, or will it be with us year-round? We do not know the answers to these important questions, but scientists around the globe are looking for answers.
Read the full article on the Drexel News Blog.