Covid-19 Will Never Go Away
Whether it becomes more or less deadly is the big question now
Someday, the Covid-19-causing coronavirus might be no more of a nuisance than the common cold, circulating seasonally and causing what’s known as an endemic disease that amounts to little more than sniffles in some children. That’s the most likely endgame, many experts have said. But it’s not inevitable. Meanwhile, the longer the SARS-CoV-2 virus is allowed to circulate willy-nilly, the more deaths and suffering are inevitable.
The steep rise in new cases shows no signs of peaking yet, says National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins. “Here we are with [the] delta variant, which is so contagious, and this heartbreaking situation where 90 million people are still unvaccinated, who are sitting ducks for this virus, and that’s the mess we are in,” Collins said on Fox News Sunday.
“I’m discouraged,” says Mark Cameron, PhD, an immunologist and medical researcher in the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. “I think SARS-CoV-2 will be a serious threat into the next cold and flu season and may circulate and cause outbreaks for years.”
If this pandemic were a baseball game, we might be approaching the later innings with a victory that’s in our grasp but simultaneously ours to lose.
“I think we are beyond the seventh-inning stretch, and the delta variant is at-bat,” Cameron tells me. Several other variants are already emerging, he notes. With ongoing mutations, the virus has the opportunity to evolve to be more deadly or less so and to potentially develop resistance to vaccines and treatments. “We could soon be in for extra innings as new variants step up,” he says.
Eradication is nearly impossible now
After more than four million global deaths from Covid-19, eradicating or largely ending the spread of this coronavirus becomes more difficult as it continues to spread and mutate, especially with the rise of the more infectious delta variant. For context, smallpox is one of only two diseases ever fully eradicated from the planet, and doing so required serious global cooperation and a boatload of trust in the effective vaccine.