COVID-19 becoming an endemic
August 17, 2022
UPDATED 12:00 PM
[Photo Credit: University Of Central Fluorida]
INTRODUCTION: We have all suffered in some way or the other because of COVID-19. Though many scientists are optimistic as they say its going to become endemic, some also say its too soon to declare whereas sources say it could be endemic by 2024. So, let’s have a more clearer look as we go deep.
WHAT DOES “ENDEMIC” MEAN?
Epidemiologists say a disease is endemic when its presence becomes steady in a particular region, or at least predictable, as with seasonal influenza. But there’s no consensus on the conditions for meeting this benchmark. By this broad definition, endemicity doesn’t necessarily mean a disease is rare or common, mild or severe.
IS COVID-19 BECOMING AN ENDEMIC DISEASE?
It’s too early to tell. Various government and industry leaders are promoting policy shifts in that direction, but officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health experts warn against treating COVID-19 as an endemic disease. The course of the pandemic has rapidly changed with the emergence of new coronavirus variants, sending countries that had been experiencing monthslong lulls into a tailspin of infections and hospitalizations. “We don’t understand what the next shoe might be to drop with this virus,” the University of Minnesota’s Michael Osterholm tells CFR.Covid-19 will never become an endemic illness and will always behave like an epidemic virus, an expert in biosecurity has warned.
ACHIEVING THE PUBLIC HEALTH GOAL The public health goal is to keep the effective R — which is R0 modified by interventions such as vaccines, masks or other mitigations — below 1.But if the R0 is higher than 1, we typically see recurrent epidemic waves for respiratory transmitted epidemic infections.”
This is why we need an ongoing ‘vaccine-plus’ and ventilation strategy, to keep R below 1 so we can live with the virus without major disruptions to society, MacIntyre said, adding a warning that “there will be more variants coming.”
RISKS OF THINKING THAT PANDEMIC IS OVER 1]The world will again find itself largely unprepared in the face of a more dangerous variant of the virus, and the possibility remains that a variant could emerge against which existing vaccines are ineffective.
2] Complacency and government inaction contributed to the devastating surge of the delta variant across India in early 2021.
3]The United States found itself scrambling as the omicron variant spread like wildfire at the end of that year, without sufficient tests and other supplies to manage the record infection levels.
HOW CAN WE HELP IT BECOME ENDEMIC?
For Covid to become endemic, enough people need to have immune protection from it for it to become endemic, according to the American Lung Association, highlighting the importance vaccination will play in the virus’s transition away from pandemic status.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that there was a chance that Covid could be ended as a global health emergency this year if the right course of action — which includes addressing vaccine and health-care inequity — is taken.
His comments came a week after another senior WHO official warned that “we won’t ever end the virus” and that “endemic does not mean ‘good,’ it just means ‘here forever.’”
1]Chloe Taylor,” Covid will always be an epidemic virus — not an endemic one, scientist warns”, Health and Science ,Feb 2 2022
2] Claire Felter, “When will Covid 19 become endemic?”, In Brief, April 28 2022
3] Jay Croft,”Covid 19 could become endemic in 2024, study says”,Lung Disease and Respiratory Health > Coronavirus> News” ,July 7 2022