Health officials say it is unlikely that the coronavirus will soon disappear, even as cases continue to decline and more Americans are vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s leading infectious disease experts, rejected the idea that COVID-19 will be eradicated in the next few years at a webinar hosted by the think tank Chatham House in November.
It should be planned that this is something that may need to be maintained chronically. It may be endemic, which we must be careful of, he said.
So what is endemic? How do COVID-19 become one? Experts say there are multiple endemic diseases in the United States that can tell us what coronavirus disease will look like in the coming years.
What does endemic mean?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines endemic disease as the constant presence and / or habitual prevalence of disease within a population in a particular geographic area.
Endemic spreads at baseline levels each year without causing major disruption to people’s lives, said Dr. Donald Burke, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.
He said that, like colds, endemic things exist for a long time without interruption and are constantly circulating in the population.
Dr. British Tosh, a Mayo Clinic doctor and infectious disease researcher, explained that in one country the disease can be endemic, but in another it can be considered an epidemic or epidemic.
For example, malaria is considered endemic in some parts of the world where mosquitoes carry parasites. However, many cases of malaria in the United States are considered epidemics if they are not contained.
What is the difference between epidemics and endemic diseases?
According to the CDC, an epidemic is a sudden increase in illness beyond what is normally expected in a particular community.
The agency says epidemics are not just caused by diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. For example, diabetes and obesity are present in the United States in a sufficient proportion to be considered epidemic. Similarly, the recent surge in opioid addiction is more accurately called an opioid epidemic.
According to Burke, the epi part of the word means to be the top, and the demic comes from demos, or people.
He said that epidemic means something that goes out and is between people. What’s in fashion is something unusual that doesn’t exist there.
He added that endemic means something in people. Many epidemics are in fashion.
However, endemic does not necessarily mean that it will exist forever. In the United States, several endemic diseases have been eradicated after gaining herd immunity through vaccines and natural infections.
What are some endemic diseases?
We are unaware of them, he said. They are sent and constant.
He said that many childhood illnesses are also endemic. For example, measles was endemic in the United States.
In the old days they were the norm. All of them received them, Burke said. However, childhood vaccines helped prevent infection and almost eliminated measles from the United States.
However, measles is still considered endemic in some parts of the world, Tosh said. If a highly infectious virus is brought in from another country, it can cause an outbreak and lead to an epidemic in the United States.
For example, according to the CDC, the 2019 outbreak resulted in more than 1,200 measles cases in the United States. This is the highest number of cases recorded in the United States since 1992. Authorities believed it occurred abroad in a group of sick travelers and unvaccinated people.
Can COVID-19 become endemic?
According to Tosh, the virus is likely to continue to spread within the population for at least a few years, perhaps indefinitely.
According to scientists at Emory University and Penn State University, a January study found that the virus “may join the ranks of mild human coronaviruses that cause long-term colds.”
Published in the peer-reviewed science journal Science, this model compares SARS-CoV-2 with four common cold coronaviruses and SARS and MERS viruses that appeared in 2003 and 2012, respectively.
Researchers have determined from the model that if the new coronavirus continues to circulate in the general population and most people are exposed to it from childhood, it could be added to the list of common colds. did.
But the future of the new coronavirus depends on many unknowns, experts say. New British and South African variants have been found in the United States that have shown that studies may be more contagious. ..
Tosh predicts that more variants will emerge as the coronavirus is mutated by increased immunity and vaccines.
He said it would be difficult to predict what this would look like in five years. But we think we can predict some sort of COVID epidemic over the next few years.