YAHOO! NEWS – Now that kids ages 5 to 11 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination and the number of fully vaccinated people in the U.S. is rising, many people may be wondering what the endgame is for COVID-19.
Early on in the pandemic, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) might just go away, since historically some pandemic viruses have simply disappeared.
For instance, SARS-CoV, the coronavirus responsible for the first SARS pandemic in 2003, spread to 29 countries and regions, infecting more than 8,000 people from November 2002 to July 2003.
But thanks to quick and effective public health interventions, SARS-CoV hasn’t been observed in humans in almost 20 years and is now considered extinct.
On the other hand, pandemic viruses may also gradually settle into a relatively stable rate of occurrence, maintaining a constant pool of infected hosts capable of spreading the virus to others. These viruses are said to be “endemic.”
Examples of endemic viruses in the United States include those that cause the common cold and the seasonal flu that appear year after year. Much like these, the virus that causes COVID-19 likely won’t die out, and most experts now expect it to become endemic.
We are a team of virologists and immunologists from the University of Colorado Boulder studying animal viruses that infect humans. An essential focus of our research is to identify and describe the key adaptations that animal viruses require to persist in the human population.
What determines which viruses become endemic?
So why did the first SARS virus from 2003 (SARS-CoV) go extinct while this one (SARS-CoV-2) may become endemic?
The ultimate fate of a virus depends on how well it maintains its transmission.
Generally speaking, viruses that are highly contagious, meaning that they spread really well from one person to the next, may never die out on their own because they are so good at finding new people to infect … READ MORE.