The coronavirus pandemic could be with us for longer than expected, according to presidential adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical professionals. They believe the disease will transition into a seasonal endemic illness — much like common influenza — and come back every winter.
Fauci draws his conclusions from the climactic patterns of coronavirus hot spots in Europe and North America as well as the surge in cases seen in the southern hemisphere as winter starts in that region. The coronavirus seems to thrive in cold weather. And this means it may reoccur every winter if a vaccine is not developed.
Despite travel restrictions and social distancing orders, the coronavirus pandemic is spreading uncontrollably around the world. Thousands of new cases are being confirmed every day, bringing the total of infections to a staggering 523,000.
Out of the 523,000 confirmed infections globally, 23,639 have died, giving the disease a case fatality rate of around 4.5%.
In the United States, 1,136 out of 80,021 confirmed infections have resulted in death, giving the American outbreak a fatality rate of 1.42%.
The prospect of such a deadly disease recurring every winter is terrifying. But that’s exactly what many American scientists believe will happen.
According to Dr. Fauci, who spearheads America’s research into the infectious disease at the National Institute of Health, the new coronavirus may transition into a seasonal disease, much like the common flu.
He points out that the disease is taking root in southern hemisphere. This includes countries like South Africa and Australia, which are seeing their caseloads soar as winter comes.
What we’re starting to see now… in southern Africa and in the southern hemisphere countries, is that we’re having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season.
And if, in fact, they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we need to be prepared that we’ll get a cycle around the second time.
Fauci believes that a vaccine is the only way to prevent a deadly resurgence of cases even after the first pandemic is brought under control.
Authorities are working on several promising therapies including two vaccines that are currently in human trials. But it may take over a year for these to hit the market. Chloroquine, a malaria treatment, may be a potential treatment for the disease.
While Dr. Fauci’s observations are alarming, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If coronavirus is a seasonal disease, that means the chain of transmission will weaken substantially (and potentially even break) in the summer.
That means the virus will be much easier to control when weather gets warmer. And the United States could be spared from the super high deaths rates in China and Northern Italy that experienced the peak of their outbreaks in the middle of winter.
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Last modified: June 24, 2020 1:03 AM UTC