Will the novel Coronavirus still be here in the fall? Will we have a second bout of COVID-19 this fall and winter? What about next year or two years from now? When is COVID-19 going to end? Is COVID-19 ever going to be over? There is so much uncertainty surrounding the novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. While this is normal considering that we are still learning about the virus and what it does to the human body, at the same time it provides an unsettling perspective as it indicates that we can’t tell with absolute certainty if the novel Coronavirus will be here in the fall, whether or not there will be a second bout of infections this fall and winter, next year or two years from now or even if it’s all going to end.
It’s perfectly normal to want to know when and if COVID-19 will be over. The current pandemic has brought with it many unfortunate circumstances, from severe illnesses with long hospital stays to fatalities. The drastic changes in lifestyle that followed the boom in infection numbers further contributed to negative economic outcomes such as millions of layoffs, pay cuts, shortages in basic necessities and more, in addition to the emotional distress caused by isolation requirements, time spent away from family and loved ones and the burden on healthcare systems. COVID-19 has been challenging, to say the least.
At this point in time, any and all statements about when and if COVID-19 will be over and about whether or not the novel Coronavirus SARS- CoV-2 will go away are but educated guesses at most, speculations at worst. Whilst closely related to SARS-CoV, the Coronavirus that caused the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak, and more distantly related to MERS-CoV, the Coronavirus that caused the 2012, 2015 and 2018 MERS outbreaks, SARS-CoV-2 remains a novel infectious agent, hence the name ‘novel Coronavirus’. This implies that exact its evolution cannot be predicted with certainty. This is, in part, a result of our still incomplete knowledge of the virus itself and, in part, a result of the many variables involved such as the human factor, the cultural factor, the economic factor etc.
- With regards to the human factor:
Different people are affected differently by COVID-19. For one, there is significant diversity in symptoms (e.g. from a mere headache and some degree of loss of smell to high-grade fever, kidney injury, liver injury, inflammation of the heart muscle, lung lesions and Coronavirus-related lung function impairment). There is also the issue of the degree to which people follow pandemic guidelines which directly impacts infection rates (e.g. the use of face masks, hand washing practices, social distancing practices).
- With regards to the cultural factor:
Cultural aspects such as personal and religious beliefs, customs and traditions, attitudes, behavior, inherited values and more directly impact the way a person relates to recommended directions of conduct during the current pandemic. For example, some people wear face masks and wash their hands religiously, while others claim they do not even believe in SARS-CoV-2 and avoid most, if not all recommendations, risking both fines and the health of others. The cultural factor further determines actual COVID-19 risks. For example, the number of members per household, several generations living under the same roof, family dynamics, participating in family reunions and sharing meals with extended family frequently can determine if a person has higher or lower risks of catching the novel Coronavirus.
- With regards to the economic factor:
For one, economic factors often impact job and career opportunities, access to education and healthcare which, in turn, have a direct and meaningful impact on a person’s attitudes, habits, behavior and overall lifestyle and also COVID-19 risks. For instance, a better economic status often provides access to better healthcare and the means to afford face masks, better nutrition and work from home, contributing to a reduced risk of COVID-19. At the same time, a person with better economic status will tend to travel more which can increase COVID-19 risks.
Is there a cure or treatment for COVID-19?
Currently there is no cure or treatment for COVID-19. The medication used in COVID-19 treatment merely addresses symptoms and various complications, not the virus itself. No vaccine has been developed yet and reports about when a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine will be ready are conflicting. Despite dates such as this fall, in two years’s time or in 7 years being circulated in the media recently, as well as news of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine human trials having begun, developing a vaccine is no easy feat and will take plenty of time. There isn’t yet a vaccine for SARS which broke out in 2002, or for MERS which broke out in 2012, or for the common cold which has been around for millions of years (an estimated of 10 to 15% of common cold cases are caused by Coronaviruses). It stands to reason that by the time a novel Coronavirus vaccine is ready and made available for the general population, we will have dealt with at least a second epidemic.
Is COVID-19 ever going to end?
Some say it will, some say it won’t. Both are possible outcomes, although the second is more likely given the infectiousness of SARS-CoV-2 (more infectious than MERS and SARS, for example, although it has a lower mortality rate than both MERS and SARS) and its fast spread which overburdened healthcare systems worldwide in a matter of months. Projecting on known information about both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV which have not been eradicated and are considered potential sources of future epidemics, it seems likely that SARS-CoV-2 will continue to exist as well. This would mean that COVID-19 is never going to actually end. However, the aim is to reduce infection rates to the point there are only isolated cases at any given point in time.
Will the novel Coronavirus be here in the fall?
Based on extrapolated data on SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and common cold Coronaviruses, it would appear that the novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, will likely still be here in the fall. Whether there will be fewer infections or a similarly high infection rate remains to be seen. Current recommended directions of conduct, if adhered to by most people, should cause COVID-19 cases to drop significantly by fall. There are voices that say summer and summer heat and sunlight may also prove great allies against the novel Coronavirus and potentially slow down or even stop it, a prediction based on extrapolated data about common cold Coronaviruses. Find out if summer will stop COVID-19. Also read about vitamin D and Coronavirus.
It’s documented that SARS-CoV reoccurred one year after the initial outbreak, so why wouldn’t SARS-CoV-2, aka the 2019 Coronavirus, do the same? The novel Coronavirus appears to be even more infectious which would have us assume it will likely still be here in the fall, 2020-2021 winter and even in the more distant future. The recommended directions of conduct and protective measures set in place all over the world could help slow down the virus and reduce infection rates, should they be followed through by as many of us as possible. At the same time, it is researchers hope that by reducing novel Coronavirus infection numbers to only a few isolated cases, the virus may be eradicated worldwide which could stop it without there being need for a vaccine or a treatment. If that can be achieved, especially considering the significant percentage of asymptomatics, remains to be seen.