The virus SARS-CoV-2, cause of Covid-19, came into our lives about a year ago and it seems that will stay with us forever, according to experts. However, it will stop being so aggressive, as it will have less mortality than the common flu and it will only cause a mild cold, specially in children, according to an article recently published in the journal Science. The study is based on a model mathematical developed by scientists from the American universities of Emory and Penn State to reproduce the spread of the virus.
From pandemic to endemic virus
Most likely, the study authors explain, is that this pandemic virus becomes an endemic disease, with much milder consequences. This transition “is associated with a change in age distribution of primary infections towards younger age groups ”. However, the transformation will not take place immediately, but rather “could take from a few years to a few decades, according to how quickly the pathogen spreads”.
In particular, the process could take “Between one and 10 years”, as explained in El País Jennie Lavine, a researcher at Emory University (United States) and first author of the study. In addition to the rate of spread, the exact time frame will depend on the speed with which it is vaccinated and the how long a person remains immune after having been vaccinated or infected. “Ideally, the ability to block the disease is long-lasting, but the transmission capacity is shorter,” Lavine details. The last factor would be to know how many infections or doses of vaccine are needed for immunity to be strong.
This it would not be the first time that a coronavirus has become endemic. Of the six coronaviruses known to have affected humans, four cause mild illnesses and they follow the pattern mentioned above, while two others, SARS-CoV-1 and MERS, were able to be eradicated.
Children will be the most contagious
According to the predictive model, once the pandemic becomes endemic, the primary cases, that is, the first time a person is infected, they will occur mainly in babies and toddlers, who usually pass the disease asymptomatically or with very mild symptoms, such as a common cold.
These infections will not prevent you from spreading it again throughout his life, but if will help, In most cases, that a serious diagnosis does not develop of the illness. Thus. “Reinfections in older individuals will predictably be common during the endemic phase and will contribute to transmission, but in this population, older individuals, who would have been at risk of severe disease in the event of a primary infection, would have acquired reducing immunity of the disease after a contagion in his childhood “, detail the scientists. At this endemic moment, “it is possible that the mass vaccination it is no longer necessary to save lives ”.