Covid-19 might become a routine illness like a common cold or the flu one day, virologists and epidemiologists say. But it will take a lot to get there, and the ferocious spread of the Delta variant that has filled hospitals again shows how challenging that path could be.
More than 20 months after the pandemic began, people around the world are having to change the way they think about a disease that many public-health authorities once believed they could conquer. A terrifying emergency has become a long, grinding haul.
The supercontagious Delta variant has made the virus virtually impossible to get rid of. It has fueled surges in cases across the globe, even in countries like Australia that had largely kept the pandemic out.
For Covid-19 to become mild, most people will need some immunity, which studies have shown reduces the severity of the disease. Infections provide some immunity, but that comes with the risk of severe illness, death and further spread of the virus, compared with vaccines. People could become vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 if that immunity erodes or is weak, or if the virus mutates.
A future Covid-19 could be less deadly than the flu, which kills up to a half-million people a year globally, because the most widely used Covid-19 vaccines are better than flu vaccines, said Dr. Garcia-Sastre, an influenza expert. The disease could still remain serious for people with weaker immune systems, doctors said.
Author(s): Betsy McKay
Publication Date: 12 September 2021
Publication Site: Wall Street Journal