Chinese scientists say the novel coronavirus will not be eradicated, adding to a growing consensus around the world that the pathogen will likely return in waves like the flu.
It’s unlikely the new virus will disappear the way its close cousin SARS did 17 years ago, as it infects some people without causing obvious symptoms like fever. This group of so-called asymptomatic carriers makes it hard to fully contain transmission as they can spread the virus undetected, a group of Chinese viral and medical researchers told reporters in Beijing at a briefing Monday.
With SARS, those infected became seriously ill. Once they were quarantined from others, the virus stopped spreading. In contrast, China is still finding dozens of asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus every day despite bringing its epidemic under control.
“This is very likely to be an epidemic that co-exists with humans for a long time, becomes seasonal and is sustained within human bodies,” said Jin Qi, director of the Institute of Pathogen Biology at China’s top medial research institute, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
A consensus is forming among top researchers and governments worldwide that the virus is unlikely to be eliminated, despite costly lockdowns that have brought much of the global economy to a halt. Some public health experts are calling for the virus to be allowed to spread in a controlled way through younger populations like India’s, while countries like Sweden have opted out of strict lockdowns.
Anthony Fauci, the director of U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last month that Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, could become a seasonal ailment. He cited as evidence cases now showing up in countries across the southern hemisphere as they enter their winter seasons.
More than 3 million people have been sickened and over 210,000 killed in the global pandemic.
While some, including Donald Trump, have expressed hope that the virus’s spread will slow as the temperature in northern hemisphere countries rises in the summer, Chinese experts on Monday said that they found no evidence for this.
“The virus is heat sensitive, but that’s when it’s exposed to 56 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes and the weather is never going to get that hot,” said Wang Guiqiang, head of the infectious diseases department of Peking University First Hospital. “So globally, even during the summer, the chance of cases going down significantly is small.”
–With assistance from John Liu and Yinan Zhao.
Source: Coronavirus Is Likely to Become a Seasonal Infection Like the Flu, Top Chinese Scientists Warn
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코로나19 감염성 높아져…”1년내 세계인구 최대 70% 감염될지도” It’s generally believed that with the coronavirus the worst is yet to come. But some predictions by global experts… say the virus will likely end up infecting most people in the world. In that case it could become a seasonal illness like the flu. Our Choi Jeong-yoon reports. Public health experts have been trying to gauge how bad the coronavirus outbreak will get, and whether it will become a full-blown pandemic, by calculating the pathogen’s reproduction rate. And according to a recent report by U.S.-based investment bank JP Morgan Chase,… South Korea’s coronavirus epidemic has not yet reached its peak. Taking the speed of secondary infections in China into account ,… the bank predicted that the epidemic could reach its climax in Korea around March 20th and said there could be as many as ten thousand confirmed cases. The bank supposed three percent of the 2-point-4 million people living in Daegu had been exposed to the virus. Daegu is where more than 80 percent of the total confirmed cases have occurred in Korea. However, the South Korean health authorities said it’s too early to make such assumptions. Vice health minister Kim Gang-lip said at a briefing on Wednesday that more thorough statistical analysis needs to be done on the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, some say the virus will ultimately become uncontainable. In an article by the Atlantic,…Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch said the coronavirus will be a global pandemic,… with 40 to 70 percent of the world’s population likely to be infected this year. But he clarified that by saying many of those people won’t have severe illnesses or even show symptoms at all, which is already reportedly the case for many people who have tested positive for the coronavirus. In that way, it could have similarities with influenza, which is often life-threatening to elderly people or those with chronic health conditions, but causes no symptoms at all in around 14 percent of cases. This is leading to an emerging consensus that the outbreak will eventually morph into a new seasonal disease, which The Atlantic says could one day turn the “cold and flu season” into the “cold and flu and COVID-19 season.” Choi Jeong-yoon, Arirang News.