COVID-19 pandemic: How is it likely to end? What are the expert speculations?
Though not confirmed, the most popular opinion of the science community is that the COVID-19 pandemic has its origin in the bats from Wuhan. The virus crossed the species line and entered a human being.
After that, it has been uncontrollable. It broke loose and has caused a pandemic. Worldwide, people and scientists, and world leaders are trying to curtail its spread but in vain. Will the pandemic ever end? And if so, what nature would be the end?
COVID-19 pandemic -the likely end
To be frank, no one knows how the COVID-19 pandemic will reach its end. This kind of pandemic is one of its kind and is more dangerous than the flu pandemics which hit the world in the last century. Its symptomatology is wide and varied-from no symptoms of death. The virus has managed to disrupt world activities and derailed the economy.
One way is that the virus mutates and becomes less dangerous. But chances of the virus decreasing its virulence are less. The chances are that the virus might end once herd immunity develops and people can ward off the ravage of the virus. An example of this was the flu pandemic of 1918-1919. It took two years, three waves, 500 million afflictions, and 50-100 million deaths to halt.
The pandemic might turn endemic and seasonal
There are also chances that the virus might not disappear but remain in secluded spots as endemic or return every year as a seasonal infection. The H1N1 strain of 1918 continued to appear in seasonal forms for another 40 years until another virus, H2N2 emerged in 1957 and kicked off the H1N1 virus. Florian Krammer, a virologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City says:
“Nature can do it, we cannot,”
But are we going to wait for another pandemic some years later to destroy this virus and begin another infection!!! With SARS, containment helped, and a bad pandemic was avoided. But it seems to be not working in the case of COVID-19 because there are asymptomatic cases that carry the virus to susceptible people.
Scientific solution-the vaccine and its power?
Swine flu caused a pandemic in 2009 but it was not that virulent and a vaccine was developed within 6 months of the appearance of the disease. But this vaccine needs to be updated yearly and does not confer a life-long immunity! But still, it was a boon since it could halt the spread. People were protected with the shots and immunity acquired from a previous infection.
So will the vaccine be the game-changer for COVID-19? It is difficult to say since the vaccines are still in the phase of development and trials. The protection they offer is also not very high and one does not know whether it would be safe in the long run. Scientists are also not sure about whether repeat and yearly shots would be needed like the flu vaccine.
In the current scenario, it appears that a mix of all of the above would be required to stop the disease. Social control measures will have to continue and at the same time trials into anti-viral drugs and vaccines should continue. Sarah Cobey, an epidemiologist at the University of Chicago states:
“The question of how the pandemic plays out is at least 50 percent social and political,”
For the other 50% of it, science will contribute!