Epidemiologists predict COVID-19 to become endemic

Written by: Dr. Ali Khatau

Posted at: 2021-02-15 09:56:05

David Heymann, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned in October 2020 that the virus appeared to be on course to become endemic. He reaffirmed his position this week during a webinar for think tank Chatham House. "I think if you speak with most epidemiologists and most public health workers, they would say today that they believe this disease will become endemic, at least in the short term and most likely in the long term," he said. The term "long Covid" refers to patients suffering from prolonged illness after initially contracting the virus, with symptoms including shortness of breath, migraines and chronic fatigue. Public discourse on the pandemic has largely focused on those with a severe or fatal illness, whereas ongoing medical problems as a result of the virus are often either underappreciated or misunderstood. Last month, the largest global study of long Covid to date found that many of those suffering with lingering effects had been unable to return to work at full capacity six months later. A report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit last month projected that the bulk of the adult population of advanced economies would be vaccinated by the middle of next year. In contrast, however, this timeline extends to early 2023 for many middle-income countries and even as far out as 2024 for some low-income countries. It underscores the scale of the challenge to bring the pandemic under control around the world. "Covid-19 is an endemic human infection. The scientific reality is that, with so many people infected worldwide, the virus will continue to mutate," said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome and a member of the UK.'s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. "Living with this virus does not, however, mean we cannot control it. We need to learn lessons from 2020 and act swiftly. Every day counts," he added. Balancing our living with endemic diseases "I think it is good to put this in context and think about the other infectious diseases that are endemic today," Heymann said during an online event Wednesday, when asked whether policymakers should be mindful of other endemic diseases in responding to the Covid pandemic. He cited tuberculosis and HIV, as well as four endemic coronaviruses that are known to cause the common cold. "We have learned to live with all of these infections, we've learned how to do our own risk assessments.

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