Scientists Believe Coronavirus Will Eventually Transform Into Seasonal Flu.
MILLIONS of people around the globe are hoping that between lockdowns and vaccines, the virus that causes Covid-19 might soon be eradicated from our lives. Now, experts are warning that the virus might be with us forever, however, it won’t always be a deadly plague but instead, they expect it to mutate into a seasonal flu type of infection.
“This coronavirus is going to be here to stay,” explained Dr John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital in the USA. “Eradication of this new coronavirus is basically impossible.
“Eradicating this virus right now from the world is a lot like trying to plan the construction of a stepping-stone pathway to the Moon. It’s unrealistic,” says Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Dr Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Centre and professor of paediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, concurred, adding that he is also “not sure we’re ever going to really eliminate this virus. … It’s not like measles, where you get life-long sterilising immunity.”
But even if the virus sticks around, new vaccines and new drugs to fight the virus mean it’s unlikely to cause severe illness in the future. Offit predicts “that eventually, it will cause fewer deaths than influenza.”
It is possible, experts say, that Covid-19 could become a seasonal illness, like the flu. Virologists call this an ‘endemic’ disease – one that is constantly circulating among us. In the years and decades to come, many people will be exposed to it in childhood and develop some immunity, which would protect them later in life against serious disease.
Experts agree that transitioning beyond a pandemic depends on the prevalence of immunity, especially among older and more vulnerable populations. Younger people, especially children, will build up immunity to SARS-CoV-2 over a lifetime of exposure to the virus. Today’s adults have had no such luxury, leaving their immune systems naive and exposed to the virus.