‘Likely’ that COVID-19 is ‘with us forever,’ warns EU health official

Don’t expect the coronavirus to go away any time soon — or ever, warns a senior European Union official in a new forecast about the pandemic.

“It seems more likely that it would stay. It seems very well adapted to humans,” European Center for Disease Prevention and Control chief Andrea Ammon said in newly published comments. “It wouldn’t be the first virus that is with us forever, so it’s not an unusual feature for a virus.”

That likely will be a rather disheartening observation to lockdown-weary societies. Yet, Ammon implied that vaccines, and the mutation of the virus into different variants, will change the nature of the public health crisis that has paralyzed the global economy and killed millions.

“The question is what it then means in terms of the changes of the virus for the vaccine effectiveness,” she told the South China Morning Post. “It might turn out that [the new coronavirus changes annually like the seasonal flu], or that at one point it remains stable and we can use one vaccine for a longer period.”

The rollout of vaccines in the United States and Europe has been tested already by the emergence of multiple variants, including at least one that British officials have “associated with an increased risk of death compared” to the original form of the virus. South African officials have suspended plans to use a vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca due to misgivings about whether the inoculant protects against mild infections.

Moderna and Pfizer, the companies that developed vaccines currently approved for use in the U.S., have acknowledged that the success of their vaccines varies depending on the variant of the virus. Moderna is “advancing an emerging variant booster candidate” to fortify people against the so-called South African variant, company officials said this week.

“One thing I do want to stress is though that those [vaccines] that have been tested are highly effective in the prevention of hospitalization and severe COVID, which is good news,” Johns Hopkins University international health professor Anna Durbin said this week. “Meaning that we can prevent hospitalizations, we can prevent death and severe COVID.”

That observation suggests that, as Ammon allows that “we should be prepared that it will remain with us,” it is the mild infections that may prove the most persistent. Via – The Washington Examiner

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