Will COVID-19 haunt us forever? Here’s what the experts say

Mannequins wearing protective face masks in the window of a supply store in downtown Paris. (Photo by Vachara Fomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Years from now, when 2020 is a distant memory, a face mask will still hang from your rear-view mirror, an epidemiologist predicts.

“As long as any of your readers are alive, we will have some form of COVID,” said Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and demographer at UC Irvine, whose The crystal ball on the pandemic has been unnecessarily accurate,

“It doesn’t suggest that we’re going to have half a million deaths a year and stop emergency departments. Things will settle down—mostly on the backs of a million dead Americans who can’t die twice, disproportionately people like that.” Those who have lost the genetic lottery and have certain cell receptors that are specifically interactive with this virus.

“But COVID is going to be here,” he said. “There will be no masking orders from the government, but some will have masks hanging from their rear-view mirrors for the rest of their lives.”

as the surprising infectiousness of the Omicron variant Sends Case Counts SoaringOf course, some glass-half-full experts believe it could be pushing us from pandemic to endemic more quickly — which translates to, meaning a change from a pants-on-fire emergency to a constantly annoying background noise. .

Creativity is encouraged in the DIY Face Mask Contest for Redlands Senior Citizens. (staff file photo)

Others ridicule.

By email, Dr. Emeritus, clinical professor emeritus of infectious diseases and vaccinology at UC Berkeley. “This is pushing us more quickly into a raging pandemic, with no guarantee that endemicity is just around the corner,” said John Swartzberg.

“I don’t have enough ego to say that it will be with us forever. Still, it will be with us for a long time but in what form (more like winter, for example) is anyone’s guess.”

UCLA Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology Dr. Timothy F. Brewer isn’t sure there’s a meaningful distinction between pandemic and endemic at this point in COVID-19 anyway.

“40 Years Later, Is HIV Still An Epidemic Or Is It Endemic?” Brewer asked. “Does it matter how we should or should respond to HIV? What is clear is that, unlike SARS and MERS, SARS-CoV-2 is efficiently transmitted from human to human, which can be eradicated. makes it problematic.”

Berkeley’s Swartzberg hopes that in the long run, vaccines will protect us from serious illness, and we’ll accept colds from it. “Still,” he said, “I doubt I will ever be on public transport without a mask.”

‘like the flu’

Flu is endemic. This means that it is always present. Immunity is not strong enough to deprive the virus of a host, but the vulnerability is not so great that the infection spreads like wildfire.

Endemicity with COVID-19 is possible, but when it will happen is anyone’s guess, said Richard Carpiano, a public health scientist and medical sociologist at UC Riverside.

“Generally, endemicity can come from a number of factors, such as high rates of vaccination and pre-infection conferring a significant amount of immunity in the population as well as low transmission efficiency of the virus. However, for COVID, the omicron variant first It is more contagious than other variants and re-infecting people who had previously had COVID months earlier.

“Similarly, studies indicate that our current vaccines are less effective against Omicron versus other variants,” he said by email. “But even worse, a large part of the world is unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, and response policies vary greatly across the US and around the world. Overall, these do not bode well for a coronavirus pandemic in the near future.”

LAUSD Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly speaks to the media as she attends the Johnny L. Cochran helps distribute COVID-19 home testing kits at Junior Middle School. (Photo by Axel Koster, contributing photographer)

UCI’s Noymar engaged in a keyboard-to-keyboard battle with other experts at the start of the pandemic that COVID-19 would turn out like the flu.

He was sure that this would be a great danger. And lately, he’s upset to see so many experts doing the same thing, comparing COVID-19 to the flu and painting endemicity as some kind of safe, happy place.

“Endemicity does not mean that COVID becomes just another flu. This means that COVID becomes endemic COVID,” he said. “By the time the two year anniversary of COVID happens in this country, one million people will have died, give or take. The flu kills 60,000 Americans in one bad year. It’s terrible, that’s 60,000 souls, but in the realm of horrible things, the flu really isn’t that bad. And so the argument that COVID is just another flu worries me. ,

Berkeley’s Swartzberg would agree. “Ask the more than 830,000 dead Americans if it’s like the flu,” Swartzberg said. “And what about those who are suffering from ‘Long COVID’? Have you heard of the ‘long flu’?”

no long term predictions

The virus is certainly not “just the flu,” Carpiano said.