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Coronavirus may never go away even after a vaccine is developed: Report

Currently, there are already four endemic coronaviruses that circulate continuously, causing the common cold, and many experts think this virus will become the fifth

May 29, 2020 / 01:10 PM IST

COVID-19 is endemic and there is a good chance that the novel coronavirus will never go away, The Washington Post has reported citing experts.

According to the report, the coronavirus will likely to circulate among the world’s population for decades to come, even after a vaccine is discovered and deployed.

"This virus is here to stay," said Sarah Cobey, an epidemiologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago and added that "the question is, how do we live with it safely?"

Experts put COVID-19 in the category of endemic that includes measles, HIV, chickenpox. These are the diseases that \resist efforts to stamp them out.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The experts further say that the persistence of COVID-19 is one of the few things that can count on about the future. However, this doesn’t mean the situation will always be as dire as now, they said.

Currently, there are already four endemic coronaviruses that circulate continuously, causing the common cold, and many experts think this virus will become the fifth, said the report, adding that its effects will grow milder as immunity will spread and human bodies adapt to it over time.

According to the experts, combating endemic diseases requires long-range thinking, sustained effort and international coordination.

Natalie Dean, a disease biostatistician at the University of Florida, said that people keep talking of returning to normal. But a future with an enduring coronavirus means that normal no longer exists, Dean said in the report.

“As we find different ways to adapt and discover what works, that is how we are going to start reclaiming parts of our society and life,” she said.

Also read | India now worst-hit country in Asia, ninth in the world

Meanwhile, the US is yearning for a quick fix vaccine, which is being portrayed as an all-out solution to the infection. However, the world has achieved that only once with smallpox and it took nearly two centuries after the discovery of a vaccine to stamping out the disease that took hundreds of millions of lives, the report said.

It further said that the success of those vaccines will depend on distribution - a complicated, logistically fraught process, as per the report. In the first few years of a vaccine, global demand will far outstrip what manufacturers are able to supply, added the report.

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
Moneycontrol News
first published: May 29, 2020 01:10 pm
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