of New coronavirus causing COVID-19 Has quickly occupied our lives. As the global pandemic worsens, confinement measures have begun in various states and states, and hospitals in the affected areas are still in a continuing crisis. As of March 27, more than 500,000 people have been infected worldwide and the death toll has exceeded 25,000. Until then, these counts will increase significantly Pandemic ended.
As we deal with the everyday reality of global disease, many of us are just waiting for the end of the pandemic. However, there is a worrying possibility lurking in the current crisis: COVID-19 may never disappear.
New coronaviruses are likely to spread in humans like the flu. If so, we may use COVID-19 for a long time.
But even endemic coronaviruses may not be the cause of panic. For scientists, there are too many unknowns at this time to tell whether we will see an outbreak of a scale and mortality similar to the current pandemic. As researchers around the world respond to this new threat, we will certainly know soon.
Virus you know
Coronaviruses have a precedent in humans. In fact, there are four of them: 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1. All four coronaviruses cause symptoms of the common cold, and infections are usually quite mild.
"We do know about other coronaviruses," said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Center for Health and Safety at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. "We do not mean that this virus is not in a new category at all." The four coronaviruses are combined and have a similar [relapse] pattern after the first wave. "
Adaliya says the new coronavirus has shown all signs of adhesion so far. It is widely spread in humans, easily spread from person to person, and there is no vaccine that can impart immunity before infection.
However, there are still many unknown factors that may affect the repeated lethal wave of COVID-19. For example, we don't know how long someone's immunity to the new coronavirus will last after infection.
Emily Toth Martin, associate professor of immunology at the university, said: "We think whether a disease is endemic or eradicated if immunity is permanent or persistent. The Michigan School of Public Health." If you The virus will gradually weaken its immunity over time, and someone will be re-infected, which is a virus that is difficult to eradicate. "
With the other four coronaviruses currently circulating in humans, we know that immunity will fade over time-it can take years. Adults may be infected with the same virus as in childhood.
But even this temporary exemption can be crucial in the short term. Doctors who are already infected can treat patients without having to worry about getting sick. The same goes for other basic workers, such as grocery store clerks, nursing home assistants, delivery men, and so on.
Even if someone is infected with the coronavirus again, the second infection may be less severe. For other viruses, Martin said, there is evidence that even if someone is reinfected, their immune system may be better able to cope with a second infection.
Virus mutation rate is another important factor in determining the severity of endemic virus recurrence. The reason flu is so common is because it is susceptible to mutation and is exchanged around surface proteins that our immune system uses to recognize viruses.
"Because antibodies are not necessarily protective, you get new flu every year," said Andrew Brouwer, a research scientist and epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. "We really don't know this. What a virus looks like. "
Now another unknown is When can I get the vaccine.
"Like other coronaviruses, this will be with us for some time or for the foreseeable future," Adalia said. Therefore, "we have a responsibility to make a vaccine to eliminate its threat."
Coronavirus vaccines already have four potential candidates because protector report. But it will be at least a few months before any vaccine is made available to the public.
Martin said that looking ahead, vaccines will be an important part of our long-term strategy against COVID-19.
"If I have to guess, I think this will be part of the regular virus list that we have been monitoring," she said.
Martin said the government needs to focus on monitoring the disease due to a lack of better understanding of the new coronavirus. She said this includes making testing easier to distribute and perform, which is prohibited by current regulations.
Although we do not know the severity of the continuous occurrence of COVID-19, caution is needed.
A paper, recently published JAMA Cardiology, This suggests that coronavirus is particularly deadly for those with hypertension and cardiovascular disease. If so, it could mean that COVID-19 could be more deadly than the common cold or flu and would still pose a potential threat to humans.
Facing the unknown, all we can do is prepare.