Hein Kaiser
Journalist
3 minute read
7 Oct 2021
5:50 am

There is no going back to pre-Covid times, say experts

Hein Kaiser

The most concerning scenario is that the virus manages to continue circumnavigating interventions and vaccines would have to be continually revisited to provide protection.

Corona Virus Mutant with blue human cell background. Picture - iStock.

There is no going back to pre-coronavirus times.

The new normal will eventually settle in as the Covid virus will be here for some time to come.

In July this year, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson already shifted his view from vanquishing the virus to acceptance that we are going to have to learn to live with it.

Speculation in a National Geographic article this month suggests that Covid will move from pandemic to endemic status and, after decades, possibly be reduced to the same status as the common cold.

Masking up, sanitising and sustained booster vaccinations are likely here to stay, says Mike van Wyk, chief executive of Medicare24.

“We have been living with Covid for the past 550 or so days, so it really just means a continuation of the practices and protocols that have become second nature,” he says.

In its article, National Geographic quotes Paul Duprex, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Centre for Vaccine Research, who says that his guess is that vaccinations will be used to simply reduce person to person transmission but that localised spikes and outbreaks could ultimately become the norm.

“We must realise that this is not going away,” says Van Wyk.

“It is impossible to say which new variants will surface over the next period, how effective vaccines will be against it and, of course, the veracity of new strains.”

He anticipates that people may continue in their current state of flux and simultaneous coexistence with the virus for at least another three years.

“Thanks to modern medical science, humanity would be able to manage it better and better, but lasting solutions are not on the near-term horizon.”

Think of the common cold, part of the coronavirus family. It used to be deadly a few hundred years ago, but our bodies have developed a certain amount of resistance to it, a measure of protection. But it does not make
you immune to catching a common cold. And consensus is growing that Covid will ultimately follow the same pattern as influenza and colds.

The Washington Post last month suggested that, as more people become vaccinated, the greater science’s ability becomes to exercise control over the disease.

As variants of Covid come and go, several theories on its future in terms of transmissibility and its lethal nature have circulated.

ALSO READ: Another hard lockdown incoming? Experts predict Covid-19 spike

Virologist, physician and professor at San Raffaele University in Italy Roberto Burioni cites three possible outcomes for the evolution of the virus.

One where its evolution results in a dominant strain that has reached maximum transmissibility, where it cannot navigate itself around vaccines and eventually go the same route as measles, mumps and rubella, for example.

The second, where the virus becomes partially hamstrung and ends up being far less lethal.

The third and most concerning scenario is that the virus manages to continue circumnavigating interventions and vaccines would have to be continually revisited to provide protection.

“Mutations may not always be in the evolutionary interest of the virus itself,” suggests Van Wyk.

But one thing is for sure: “Irrespective of herd immunity targets and so on,” says Van Wyk, “think about yourself and your family and your friends. Vaccination is the only option and the only means we have to start exercising control over Covid.”

He adds that while masks, sanitising and social distancing may be in the stars for our collective immediate future, it’s not the end of the world as we know it, but the beginning of a journey back from the brink of imminent disaster.

news@citizen.co.za