People weary of a pandemic that has dragged on longer than advertised may need to brace themselves for a troubling prospect, as the head of the EU’s ECDC health agency has warned that Covid-19 will likely stick around forever.
“It seems very well adapted to humans, so we should be prepared that it will remain with us,” Andrea Ammon, head of the Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Prevention, told France’s AFP in an interview on Friday.
In fact, Ammon said it appears more likely that the virus will continue to circulate indefinitely than that it would disappear. “It wouldn’t be the first virus that is with us forever, so it’s not an unusual feature for a virus,” she added.
Despite the development of several vaccines to fight Covid-19, the virus could continue to proliferate, Ammon said. Although health officials are confident that the vaccines are effective in preventing people from contracting illnesses caused by Covid-19, it will take more time to evaluate how effective they may be in reducing the spread of the virus.
It’s also not yet clear how effective the vaccines will be in blunting new strains of coronavirus. Ammon said Covid-19 may wind up being relatively stable, meaning that the same vaccines can be used against it year after year, or it could change significantly enough over time to necessitate adaptations of the inoculations, like those used for seasonal flu each year.
Even with the pace of new infections dropping off after spiking in December and January, Ammon said governments need to keep imposing Covid-19 restrictions. “We are really not out of the woods,” she said. “Everybody’s fed up with the measures, but when you’re running a long-distance course… [you] have to run the last kilometers.”
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