Health authorities have warned that we may have COVID-19 permanently. They believe while it may not be as widespread and claim many lives like it does now; it will become part of the seasonal diseases forever.
Scientists across the world have indicated that the coronavirus may be in circulation for many more years to come, just like other seasonal influenzas.
“I don’t think it’s going to be possible to eliminate COVID, which means to get rid of it completely from the country. The virus is too infectious, spreads too rapidly from person to person and it’s too widespread at this time but it will circulate much slower because a much greater portion of the population will be immune and therefore it won’t cause these big outbreaks which spread like wildfire. Because many people will be immune, it will just cause one or two cases here and there but yes, we can expect to see it for a few years going forward and probably forever,” says Head of the Centre for Vaccines and Immunology at the National Institute for Communicable Disease Doctor Melinda Suchard.
Scientists want to know more about the virus
Scientists are still learning about this virus that is relatively new. They are still trying to figure out about immunity linked to the virus such as how long a person is immune to coronavirus. Some studies have indicated that immunity fades off in just weeks and months.
Chair of the School of Social Security at the School of Governance at Wits University, Professor Alex van der Heever says locally we will need to reach a level of immunity to have some strong protection from the virus moving forward.
“In SA it’s not been our interventions that have turned the epidemic, it’s been a high level of immunity in high-risk communities. But given that it becomes very difficult for the virus to transmit easily because it’s got large kinds of walls built through people who are immune, it’s likely that we will see less community based spread but it will still be there at relatively low levels kind of rambling along until we have a vaccine which can substantially accelerate the herd immunity.”
However, the Deputy Director of the HIV Clinical Research Unit at Wits Consortium, Doctor Francesca Conradie believes it will die down in a few years.
“ I don’t think that that this is the last pandemic that we are going to see. I’m hoping it’s pretty close to the last severe one that I will see in my lifetime. But I think that just the way the world is now and how people go from one side of the world very quickly I think we will see another type of similar virus. But I think this virus will burn itself out very quickly. And when I say burn itself out I don’t mean in 2021, I mean by 2023 or somewhere around there. So we’ve got a while to go.”
They all believe a vaccine is the only hope in curbing the spread of the coronavirus right now.
Different institutions are working on developing a vaccine: