“The health crisis is not behind us. We will have to live with this virus for several months still”. This is what Emmanuel Macron claimed this past August 11. But until when do we have to live with the virus? Will the coronavirus epidemic ever end?
Ouest-France asked the question to several epidemiologists and specialists. From the most optimistic scenario to the most pessimistic, three possibilities have been listed, starting with the most favorable and least likely hypothesis: the eradication of Covid-19, like for smallpox. “Smallpox is the only example of an infectious disease we managed to eradicate, especially because the vaccine is very effective on the infection and transmission, because there is no mutation, and no animal reservoir”, Montpellier University epidemiology and infectious disease evolution head lecturer Mircea Sofonea explains.
“The virus will disappear, we will keep it with us the same way we kept the other coronaviruses that cause colds”, virologist and member of the Scientific Committee Bruno Lina told our peers from Ouest-France.
Second possibility? Coronavirus could become endemic, and keeps spreading but leading to least severe infections. “This respiratory virus will end up behave like the other respiratory viruses, namely become seasonal and have a lower impact”, Lina explains, adding: “progressively, the virus could lose some pathogen, virulence power and slowly evolve into a common virus”.
“We are sure the option will occur in the long-run”, virologist Lina claims. If the scenario happened to come true, “epidemics would be seasonal then”, epidemiologist Yves Buisson then confirms.
Last but not least, the last likely option: the Covid-19 epidemic does not lower because of the outbreak of new variants. In early August, American epidemiologist Larry Brilliant claimed: “we’re closer to the beginning than we are to the end [of the pandemic]”, adding “unless we vaccinate everyone in 200 plus countries, there will still be new variants”.
The outbreak of new and even more contagious and dangerous mutations leads us to fear the worst and could lead to new waves. “It would then require updated vaccine including a booster shot”, epidemiology lecturer Mircea Sofonea told Ouest-France.
“It’s possible that the virus continues to act very actively in countries that have lost the way and don’t have access to vaccines. As it circulates, it can change and come back to us that have changed, in a form that is difficult to control”, Head of World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Emergency Committee Didier Houssin stated.