The new coronavirus may exist for a long time. How should we deal with it?

pixabay.com A survey by nature found that many scientists believe that the new coronavirus will become endemic, but its threat to society will gradually weaken

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For most of last year, life in Western Australia was not disturbed by the new coronavirus — friends drinking in bars, relatives kissing and hugging, and children didn’t need to take their temperature and wear masks at school

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The reason why Western Australia can maintain this enviable living condition is that the government has implemented strict travel restrictions and blockades

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At the beginning of last year, the security personnel of a designated isolation Hotel detected the novel coronavirus positive, which led to the blockade of some areas overnight

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However, the experience of Western Australia also shows us the world without a novel coronavirus

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With the help of vaccines, if other places are determined to adopt this “zero novel coronavirus” strategy, can we expect the novel coronavirus to disappear from the earth one day? It’s a wonderful dream, but most scientists don’t think it’s possible

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In January this year, nature interviewed more than 100 immunologists, infectious disease researchers and virologists who studied the new coronavirus, asking them whether the new coronavirus could be completely eliminated? Almost 90% of the respondents agreed that the new coronavirus will become endemic, that is, it will continue to spread among some people in the world in the next few years

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Source: nature investigation “it’s unrealistic to let the new coronavirus disappear from the world now, just like building a ladder to the moon.” Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota

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But being unable to eliminate it does not mean that death, illness or social alienation will continue as it does now

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What happens in the future mainly depends on what kind of immunity people can get from infection or vaccination, and how the new coronavirus will evolve

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Influenza viruses and the four human coronaviruses that cause the common cold are endemic – Seasonal deaths and diseases caused by these viruses are within the tolerance of the whole society, even without blockade, masks and social distance, with the help of annual vaccination and acquired immunity

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In the nature survey, more than a third of scientists believe that the new coronavirus will disappear in some areas, but will continue to spread in other areas

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There is also a risk of recurrence in the zero novel coronavirus area, but if most people are vaccinated, mass immunization can nip this momentum in the bud

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“My guess is that some countries will get rid of the new coronavirus, but still face persistent (perhaps seasonal) risks of reintroduction, mainly from areas with inadequate vaccine coverage or public health measures.” Said Christopher dye, an epidemiologist at Oxford University

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“The new coronavirus may become endemic, but the epidemic pattern is difficult to predict.” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University in Washington state

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The epidemic pattern determines the social cost of the new coronavirus in the next 5 years, 10 years and even 15 years

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Five years after the childhood virus, the novel coronavirus pandemic may become a distant memory when the nursery tells parents on the phone that their child has a runny nose and a fever

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But the cause of their children’s illness may be the new coronavirus that will take 1.5 million lives in 2020

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This is a scenario predicted by scientists

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Although the new coronavirus is lingering, once the human body has a certain immunity to it – whether through natural infection or vaccine – even if it is infected, it will not develop into severe disease

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“The new coronavirus will become the virus that people encounter in early childhood, and the symptoms after infection are generally mild or none.” Jennie Lavine, an infectious disease researcher at Emory University in Georgia

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Scientists consider this possibility because four endemic coronaviruses (OC43, 229E, nl63, hku1) are just like this

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At least three of these viruses have been circulating among people for hundreds of years; two cause about 15% of respiratory infections

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Lavine and her colleagues have developed a model based on previous research data, which shows that most children are infected with these viruses as early as 6 years old, and then they are immune to these viruses [1]

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This defense falls fast enough to stop reinfection, but it seems to keep them from getting sick in adulthood, Lavine said

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Even for children, the first infection is relatively mild

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It is not clear whether immunity to the new coronavirus is the same

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A large-scale study of people who have been infected with the new coronavirus shows that their neutralizing antibody (which can prevent reinfection) levels begin to decline after about 6 to 8 months [2]

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“But they produce memory B cells in their bodies – cells that produce antibodies when new infections arise, and T cells that destroy infected cells.” Said Daniela Weiskopf, an immunologist at the La Jolla Institute of immunology in California, co-author of the study

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Whether this immune memory can prevent reinfection is uncertain – although reinfection cases, combined with new variants, may increase the risk of reinfection, are still considered very rare

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Weiskopf and her colleagues are tracking whether immune memory can be maintained in people with novel coronavirus infection

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If the vast majority of people are permanently immunized with the new coronavirus – whether through natural infection or vaccination – then the possibility of the new coronavirus becoming endemic is slim, she said

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But immunity may weaken in a year or two, and there are already clues that the new coronavirus can escape this immunity after evolution

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More than half of the scientists interviewed by nature believe that weakened immunity will be one of the main reasons for the new coronavirus to become endemic

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The new coronavirus, which has spread all over the world, may have been endemic

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But because the number of people infected worldwide continues to rise, many people are still susceptible, so scientists still believe that it belongs to the stage of pandemic

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At the endemic stage, the number of infections will be relatively flat in a few years, with occasional outbreaks, Lavine said

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It can take years or decades to reach this stable state, and the key depends on how quickly people develop immunity, Lavine said

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It’s the fastest way to let the new coronavirus spread uncontrollably – but it will cost millions of lives

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“It’s too expensive.” She said

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The best way is actually vaccination

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Countries that have begun to distribute new vaccines are expected to see a decline in severe cases soon, but the effect of vaccines on reducing the spread of the virus will take longer to see

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Data from clinical trials suggest that vaccines that prevent symptomatic infections may also prevent human to human transmission of the virus

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If the vaccine can really block transmission and is effective for new mutants, the virus may be eliminated in areas where the vaccination rate is high enough to protect the uninoculated population and help achieve mass immunization

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According to a model developed by Alexandra Hogan of Imperial College London and her colleagues [3], if the prevention and control measures of maintaining social distance (such as wearing masks and many people working at home) are not lifted, at least 55% of the people should be vaccinated with a 90% transmission blocking efficiency vaccine in order to achieve temporary mass immunization

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(if all measures to maintain social distance are lifted and mass immunization is achieved, nearly 67% of people will be vaccinated.

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