Some experts seem to think that the novel coronavirus will probably become a lasting disease in the human respiratory-virus inventory.
“This is going to be with us for some time – it’s endemic in human populations and not going to go away without a vaccine,” Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, claimed.
The pathogen triggers a disease called COVID-19, whose symptoms are fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, along with occasional critical lung infections. At least 2,800 people have died because of the virus, and over 82,500 have gotten infected, mostly in China, where the pathogen first appeared.
Chinese president Xi Jinping, as well as President Donald Trump, have both shown optimism about hindering springtime weather since the warmth could stop the pathogen’s spread in a similar way to the seasonal flu.
Adalja said: “It may decrease in transmission frequency so that you’ll be able to have time to get a vaccine scaled up by the next appearance of it.”
However, most experts believe the vaccine won’t do anything to hinder the infection. Moreover, according to some, the coronavirus might not even go away for good.
Coronavirus Could Become Seasonal
If the novel coronavirus ends up fluctuating with the seasons, just like the flu, it could withdraw in summer and come back in the fall and winter of each year from now on.
“We know respiratory viruses are very seasonal, but not exclusively,” William Schaffner, an infectious-disease expert at Vanderbilt University, said. “One would hope that the gradual spring will help this virus recede. We can’t be sure of that.”
Respiratory pathogens are seasonal due to the fact that cooler temperatures help harden a protective gel-like coating that encircles the virus particles while they are in the atmosphere. A stronger layer enables them to survive sufficiently in the air to move from one person to the next.
According to Amanda Simanek, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, the flu virus survives better in cool and dry weather. However, the northern and southern hemispheres don’t have the same seasons at the same time. As soon as China and the United States get to see warmer weather, regions in South America and Oceania will be experiencing winter.
Moreover, some states do not have sudden seasonal changes at all, so the flu is present there throughout the year, Adalja said.
Another Common Virus
Four other coronaviruses are currently epidemic worldwide. They are all seasonal, and they usually trigger mild common colds, although each can cause pneumonia. As per Adalja, the new pathogen may end up being endemic, too, a part of the repertoire of ‘community-acquired’ constantly present coronaviruses.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced on Wednesday the first possible case of coronavirus ‘community spread’ in the United States, with the patient hospitalized in Sacramento, California.
That means the pathogen is transmitted from person to person in the United States, instead of just among people who recently traveled to China.
“It’s something established in the community,” Adalja said. He added that some public-health specialists already believed some United States coronavirus cases were being left out because if their similarity to other seasonal conditions.
“Likely community spread of mild cases was happening in many countries around the world, mixed in with cold and flu season cases,” Adalja said.