MONDAY, MAY 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) – COVID-19 may be easing into a new status as a widely circulating and somewhat harsher version of the common cold, experts say – a virus that people could get repeatedly, though they were recently infected.
“[SARS-CoV-2] is destined to join four of his family members and become an endemic coronavirus which will repeatedly infect individuals throughout their lifetime, “said Dr. Amesh Adalja, of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, referring to the four circulating coronaviruses that cause colds.
“It will be one of several respiratory viruses as people struggle with and will become more and more disruptive and more manageable with medical countermeasures and the population’s risk habituation, “he added.
With the advent of the Omicron strain, SARS-CoV-2 has become much more capable of re-infecting even those who have some immune protection against COVID-19.
Studies have estimated that the rate of Omicron infections are six to eight times higher than Delta infections in the United States. But the true rate is unknown because many infections are unreported when people test at home.
COVID-19 vaccines and previous infections can protect against serious illness, but none of them have been able to prevent some people from catching the virus over and over again.
“It may well be that this virus is now mutated, so it is highly contagious, but by and large causes mild illness,” said Dr. William Schaffner, Medical Director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “This is a family of viruses that do not produce sustained immune protection, so it is likely that we, as we already see, can be re-infected at regular intervals.”
And unlike flu but like the common cold, COVID has the potential to become irritating all year round.
While COVID-19 waves are more intense during the winter months, when people go indoors and the risk of infection increases, coronavirus is also capable of producing outbreaks in the summer, Schaffner said.
“Influenza essentially disappears from April to around September or October, and then we have very dramatic seasonal outbreaks,” he said. “COVID is not like that. We have had summer outbreaks. We have had winter outbreaks. It can cause illness at any time of the year.”
A small fraction of people receiving COVID-19 will run the risk of long-term symptoms due to the virus’ ability to cause severe immune overreactions in some leading to nerve and organ damage, experts said.
“We’ll get a better handle on it, but that does not mean we can not learn much more” about the long-distance covid, said Dr. Aaron Glatt, Head of Infectious Diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, NY long-term side effects such as COVID. “
Glatt and Schaffner said there is one way to prevent it long-distance symptoms – stay up to date on your COVID vaccinations.
“I think there is now some data to suggest that getting vaccinated prevents some of these long-term complications,” Glatt said.
There is room for improvement on that front as COVID-19 sets out to stay, Schaffner added.
“About half of the people eligible for the third dose – I’m not talking about the fourth, just the third you know, the first booster – have not yet received it,” he said. “And it’s the third dose, the first booster that really provides safer protection against serious illness. And the vaccines are free and they’re widely available. So you can see we’re still going to have a lot of people when we say, sing from the same side. “
Even healthy people may encounter COVID’s long-term symptoms, but vulnerable individuals will need to be even more careful going forward, doctors said.
People at different risks will potentially have different levels of concern about continuously circulating viruses.
“Are you older? Are you weak? Do you have any remarkable underlying diseases – heart disease, lung disease, diabetes? Are you overweight? Are you weakened immune system?” said Schaffner. “These people would certainly be wise to be more careful.”
That means continuing to wear masks at public gatherings indoors and being tested right away if you have symptoms, he said.
It’s important, Schaffner said, “because we now have an antiviral drug that we can give you that will help prevent your development into more serious illness.”
He also added, be ready to get COVID-19 booster shots while doctors continue their cat-and-mouse game to counter the coronavirus’ continued attempts to evade people’s immune protection.
“This fall I would expect – this one looks a little into my crystal ball – that we will have an updated COVID vaccine, COVID vaccine 2.0 as it was,” Schaffner said. “There may well be the recommendation that we all go out in the fall and get two vaccines, one in each arm” against COVID and flu.
“It’s not going to be easy to sell,” he added.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about COVID-19.
SOURCES: Amesh Adalja, MD, senior researcher, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Baltimore; William Schaffner, MD, Medical Director, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Md .; Aaron Glatt, MD, Chief, Infectious Diseases, Mount Sinai South Nassau, Oceanside, NY
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