Ebene News – CA – WHO predicts COVID-19 will become endemic, but some experts are less certain

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In this Monday March 9, 2020 file photo, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, speaks at a press conference on COVID-19 updates , at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland (Salvatore Di Nolfi / Keystone via AP, file)

World Health Organization officials predict the ‘fate’ of the COVID-19 virus is to become endemic, suggesting that it could continue to spread through the population at a steady rate despite a global vaccination effort. p>

But some Canadian scientists say the future of the novel coronavirus is far from set in stone, noting that there are a variety of factors that could shape the trajectory of the infectious disease

At a press conference on Tuesday, several senior WHO officials warned that the development of COVID-19 vaccines did not guarantee eradication of the virus, suggesting that a more realistic goal would be to reduce the threat of transmission to more manageable levels

“It currently appears that the fate of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is to become endemic,” said David Heymann, chair of the WHO’s strategic and technical advisory group for infectious risks

“But its final fate is not yet known Fortunately, we have tools to save lives and these in combination with good public health will allow us to learn to live with COVID-19”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a disease is endemic when it is consistently or predictable within a population or region.For example, chickenpox is endemic in much of North America. North and is spreading at a constant rate among young children

Dr Gerald Evans, chair of the division of infectious diseases at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., Agrees the COVID-19 virus is on track to follow several other human coronaviruses that have become endemic, most often causing mild respiratory symptoms, such as colds

Evans said some evolutionary biologists believe that after making the leap from animal populations to human populations, these endemic coronaviruses have mutated over the centuries to strike a pathogenic balance between ensuring effective person-to-person transmission, without be so virulent to the point of killing the host

He projects that the COVID-19 virus could follow a similar evolutionary path, but said this process could be compressed into a shorter period because “vaccine-induced herd immunity” would limit the pool of potential hosts to favor more transmissible but less virulent versions of the disease

“We can speed up the process of adapting people to the new virus by using vaccines so that we don’t have to wait 100 years for it to become some kind of low-grade endemic coronavirus that causes cold-like syndrome in winter all over the world “

But Jean-Paul Soucy, a doctoral student in epidemiology at the University of Toronto, says that while the COVID-19 virus does not appear to be going away anytime soon, there are too many unknowns to predict what the disease will look like the line

“I think it’s fair to say that (the COVID-19 virus) will continue to exist somewhere in the world for the foreseeable future,” Soucy said “But it remains to be seen to what extent this will have a direct impact about us “

While some pathogens mutate to be less fatal, Soucy said that is not the case for all viruses

The fragmented distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the world will likely influence the geography of the disease, Soucy said

Additionally, he said, it is still unclear whether the first batch of vaccines will stop the spread of the virus or simply prevent the development of symptoms.

With so many unanswered questions, Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist at the University of Manitoba, argues the possibility of the COVID-19 virus becoming endemic is not a “lost conclusion”

“I know it’s dark right now,” Kindrachuk said, “But it’s certainly not the first time people have found themselves in this situation”

Vaccination campaigns have eradicated viruses in the past, he said, highlighting decades-long efforts to eradicate smallpox

It’s hard to say if that’s possible for COVID-19, Kindrachuk said, given that the virus has reportedly passed from animals to humans and there is still potential for further interspecies fallout.”

But Kindrachuk fears overconfident predictions that COVID-19 is here to stay could breed complacency among a public weary of the pandemic, as Canadians should work towards the ultimate goal of stopping the spread of the virus.

“We cannot resign ourselves to any particular outcome at this point,” Kindrachuk said. “We still have a large part of the outcome in our hands”

Full coverage at CTVNewsca / Coronavirus

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Endemic

Ebene News – CA – WHO predicts COVID-19 will become endemic, but some experts are less certain

Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/who-predicts-covid-19-will-become-endemic-but-some-experts-are-less-certain-1.5248847