In addition, we are not sure whether the COVID-19 vaccines used will provide long-term immunity, as do smallpox and polio vaccines. If not, it can leave people unprotected as their immunity to the vaccine weakens. In addition, in order to attempt eradication, the vaccine must be available to all, which is not currently feasible, although production is expected to increase over the rest of 2021 and 2022. Asymptomatic cases of infection would also prevent of an eradication campaign, as for polio, allowing undetected spread. The presence of many different symptoms, such as smallpox rash, made it easier to identify cases and control the transmission of smallpox during the eradication campaign.
So eradication is stopped and elimination would be very difficult, at least at this point in time. This leaves us with a third possibility: an endemic virus. This means that it will be present at a low level among the population in the foreseeable future. Dr. Najera suggests that SARS-CoV-2 will become more like the four endemic human coronaviruses that usually cause colds: “another nasty virus for some and severe enough to kill for others.”
This endemic finding is in line with the outcome of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009. On 10 August 2010, approximately 16 months after its onset, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the pandemic “over” but warned: ” With the onset of the pandemic, this does not mean that the H1N1 virus has disappeared. Based on past pandemic experience, we expect the H1N1 virus to assume the behavior of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for several years. “It simply came to our notice then. More than a decade later, the descendants of the 2009 pandemic virus are still circulating, as were the pandemic influenza viruses after the 1918, 1957 and 1968 pandemics. At some point, the WHO will issue a similar declaration for COVID-19 when new levels cases are low enough in most countries around the world. But this will not be the end of the virus.
The next phase of pandemic life
Monica Green, PhD, a historian of medicine and global health and an independent scientist, points out that the pandemic “end” is indeed in the eye of the beholder; pandemics last longer than the acute and deadliest outbreaks. “Most stories in medicine focus on epidemics: the visible part of the outbreaks in human communities, ”she says. “And most human communities have always been able to see things only on a small scale. So the “epidemics” end when the disease is no longer visible about us,” however, “we” is defined, from city to nation state. Dr. Green’s own work studying the spread of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes bubonic plague, the cause of Black Death, shows that past pandemics have technically lasted hundreds of years or more. But this does not mean that these outbreaks were the most severe of all time – different phases were involved.
So, although we have not yet come out of the woods, we are probably heading for the beginning of the post-pandemic phase of the outbreak in the United States. New variants may still emerge and transmission is expected to break out from time to time, especially in areas with low vaccination rates.
It is important to note that the reduction in cases in the United States will not automatically mean the end of the pandemic, which is by definition global. Depending on the rate of global vaccine spread, the pandemic could continue for another year or more in low-income countries. Dr. Kenny hopes that vaccines will “crush all future waves” in the United States, but there is a very real fear for many low- and middle-income countries that “the waves will keep coming unless we do a far better and far -Fast work to increase global production and distribution of these vaccines. “Partnerships are currently being proposed to increase the spread and production of vaccines in these countries, and additional vaccines are still being tested that can be used in countries that are still experiencing high levels of COVID-19 infections.