The novel coronavirus may one day become a seasonal virus like the flu — but that day won’t come until herd immunity is achieved, according to the findings of a recent review published in Frontiers in Public Health .
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 infection, will likely become seasonal “in countries with temperate climates” following herd immunity, according to a press release on the study’s findings . But until then, study authors said the novel virus will “continue to circulate across the seasons.”
"COVID-19 is here to stay and it will continue to cause outbreaks year-round until herd immunity is achieved. Therefore, the public will need to learn to live with it and continue practicing the best prevention measures, including wearing of masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene and avoidance of gatherings,” said Dr. Hassan Zaraket, of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and senior author of the study, in a statement.
There are at least four pre-existing coronaviruses that are seasonal — but why exactly they are remain somewhat shrouded in mystery. For instance, the 2002-2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which claimed nearly 800 lives at the time, ended in the summer — but a 2004 report on the seasonality of SARS did not establish a clear reason for why that was.
“Our understanding of the forces driving seasonal disappearance and recurrence of infectious diseases remains fragmentary, thus limiting any predictions about whether, or when, SARS will recur,” the authors wrote at the time . “It is true that most established respiratory pathogens of human beings recur in wintertime, but a new appreciation for the high burden […]