Shahmeer Kazi describes a lingering scourge – COVID Not Going Away
COVID Not Going Away – COVID-19 has already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic and it is pointed out that it may linger on in the future. Keeping in view of this prospect new updated booster shots are being rolled out to better protect against the variants circulating now.
This situation runs contrary to the general impression that the pandemic is over and done with many medical centers dropping quarantine and distancing recommendations along with more people throwing off their masks and returning to pre-pandemic activities. The current situation is quite dicey and no one can be sure what this scourge is going to do next.
The main reason for the continuation of the pandemic is that it is consistently mutating itself and has developed the ability at getting around immunity from vaccination and past infection. The latest omicron variant dubbed BA.4.6 appears to be even better at evading the immune system than the dominant BA.5.
This development has sparked worries among the medical community that the virus may well keep evolving in worrisome ways. Many researchers are however convinced that this virus is likely to stay with the human race indefinitely. Experts expect COVID-19 will someday become endemic, implying it occurs regularly in certain areas according to established patterns though they do not think that will be very soon.
On the other hand, many experts are of the opinion that living with the virus should not necessarily be a scary or bad concept since people are getting better at fighting it. This observation comes with a warning that if efforts end at updating new vaccines and we stop getting new treatments then the virus could come back with a vengeance. Experts also point out that COVID will keep causing serious illnesses in some people.
Moreover, in the most pessimistic scenario, more hospitalizations are foreseen but to most optimists, with no new variant and early boosters, illness and hospitalizations will recede. In any case, however, the world is likely to keep seeing repetitive surges until next-generation vaccines are developed and rolled out equitably.
There is though a strong suggestion that the virus just has too many ways to work around the current strategies and it will just keep finding people, finding them again, and self-perpetuating. Scientists expect more genetic changes that affect parts of the spike protein by studying the surface of the virus, letting it attach to human cells.
They point out that the virus has seen peak transmission, and peak immune escape properties with the virus exceeding that by another significant notch. It is also pointed out that the virus probably would not keep getting more transmissible forever as it is suggested that there is a limit.
The problem actually lies in the fact that a lot of people across the world still do not have any prior immunity as either they have not been infected or they have not had access to vaccination. It is pointed out that if humanity’s baseline level of immunity rises significantly, the rate of infections, and with that emergence of more contagious variants, should slow down.
COVID Not Going Away
But there is a chance the virus could mutate in a way that causes more severe illness. It is also mentioned that there is not any inherent reason, biologically that the virus has to become milder over time as it may seem milder now mostly due to the combined effect of people some immune history with the virus.
In this context, it is noted that Omicron has been around since late last year, with a series of super transmissible versions quickly displacing one another and that will continue at least for the next few months. However, it is mentioned that down the road it is likely a new variant distinct from omicron will pop up.
The recent wave of infections and re-infections gives the virus more chances to spread and mutate and new variants to emerge. Many experts are of the view that people can influence the future of the virus. The first step is to get vaccinated and boosted.
It is now a proven fact that not only does vaccination protect against severe disease and death, but it also raises the level of immunity globally. Hospitalizations can radically reduce if people get timely boosters and treat the virus as a serious danger. People can also keep protecting themselves by taking other precautions, for example, wearing masks indoors when COVID rates are high.
One thing that has clearly emerged is that this disease is preventable and this plainly is a fact that is required to be kept in view. Any slackness on part of the people could provide the virus a chance to resurge. The human race is resilient enough to tackle serious issues and it has always come out a winner in the longer run. The Weekender