Is COVID-19 Ending?  Scientists say no.

Is COVID-19 Ending? Scientists say no.

Is COVID-19 Ending?  Scientists say no.

Explainer-Virus Outbreak-COVID Future (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Explainer-Virus Outbreak-COVID Future (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Is the coronavirus about to come out?

You may think so. New updated booster shots are being rolled out for better protection against the variants circulating now. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has abandoned the quarantine and spacing recommendations of COVID-19. And more and more people have taken off their masks and returned to pre-pandemic activities.

But the scientists say no. They predict that the scourge that has already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic will continue far into the future.

One of the reasons it lasted so long? It has improved more and more in circumventing immunity from vaccination and previous infections. Scientists point out emerging research that suggests that the latest omicron variant gaining traction in the US – BA.4.6, which was responsible for about 8% of new infections in the US last week – appears to still be. more effective in evading the immune system than the dominant BA. 5.

Scientists fear the virus may continue to evolve in worrying ways.

HOW LONG WILL IT BE AROUND?

White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said COVID-19 will likely be with us for the rest of our lives.

Experts predict that COVID-19 will one day become endemic, which means it regularly occurs in certain areas according to established patterns. But they don’t think it will be very soon.

However, living with COVID “shouldn’t necessarily be a scary or bad concept,” since people are getting better at fighting it, Jha said during a recent question-and-answer session with US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “Obviously if we were to take our foot off the gas – if we stop updating our vaccines, stop receiving new treatments – then we could slide backwards.”

Experts say COVID will continue to cause serious illness in some people. The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub did some pandemic projections ranging from August 2022 to May 2023, assuming new optimized boosters that add protection for omcron’s newest relatives would be available and a recall campaign would take place in autumn and winter. In the worst case scenario – a new variant and late boosters – they predicted 1.3 million hospitalizations and 181,000 deaths during that period. In the most optimistic scenario – no new variations and early boosters – they projected just over half the number of hospitalizations and 111,000 deaths.

Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said the world is likely to continue to see repeated spikes until “we do the things we need to do,” such as developing next-generation vaccines and launching them so fair.

Topol said the virus “has too many ways to circumvent our current strategies and will continue to find people, find them again and self-perpetuate.”

HOW WILL THE VIRUS CHANGE?

Scientists expect more genetic changes that affect parts of the spike protein that fixes the virus’s surface, allowing it to attach to human cells.

“Whenever we think we have seen the peak of transmission, the peak of immune escape properties, the virus surpasses it by another significant level,” Topol said.

But the virus probably won’t continue to be transmissible forever.

“I think there is a limit,” said Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “What we are really dealing with, however, is that there are still many people around the world who have no prior immunity: either they have not been infected or they have not had access to vaccination.”

If humanity’s basic immunity level increases significantly, he said, the rate of infections and with the emergence of more contagious variants should slow down.

But there is a possibility that the virus could mutate in a way that causes more serious disease.

“There is no inherent reason, biologically, that the virus should become milder over time,” said Dr. Wesley Long, a Houston Methodist pathologist. The fact that it may seem milder now “is probably just the combined effect of all of us having an immune history with the virus.”

While scientists hope it continues, they also point out that immunity gradually decreases.

WILL THE NEXT VARIANT BE ANOTHER OMICRON VERSION?

Omicron has been around since late last year, with a number of super-transmissible versions quickly replacing each other and Binnicker believes “this will continue at least for the next few months.”

But along the way, he said a new variant distinct from omicron is likely to appear.

The recent spate of infections and re-infections, he said, “offers the virus more chances to spread and mutate and new variants to emerge.”

CAN PEOPLE INFLUENCE THE FUTURE OF THE VIRUS?

Yes, the experts said.

One way, they said, is to get vaccinated and boosted. This not only protects against serious illness and death, but increases the level of immunity globally. They said people should also continue to protect themselves, for example, by wearing masks indoors when COVID rates are high.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday that up to 100,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 9,000 deaths could be prevented if Americans received the updated booster at the same rate as they typically get an annual flu shot this fall. About half of Americans typically get vaccinated against the flu each year.

Longtime nurse Catherine Mirabile said it’s important not to ignore the dangers of the coronavirus, which made her sick twice, nearly killed her husband, and left them both with COVID for a long time. Daily deaths still average around 450 in the United States

“People really need to look at this and still take it seriously,” said the 62-year-old from Princeton, West Virginia, who is now disabled. “They could end up in the same shape we are in.”

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AP reporter Amanda Seitz contributed from Washington.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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