MONDAY, May 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — COVID-19 may be on the cutting edge as a widespread and somewhat more severe version of the common cold, experts say — a virus that people can catch over and over again, even if they are He was recently injured.
“[SARS-CoV-2] He’s set to join four members of his family and become an endemic coronavirus that infects individuals repeatedly throughout their lives,” said Dr. Amish Adalja, of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, referring to the four circulating coronaviruses that cause the common cold.
“It will become one of the many respiratory viruses that people come into contact with, and it will become increasingly less disruptive and more manageable through medical countermeasures and population risk adaptation,” he added.
With the advent of the Omicron strain, SARS-CoV-2 has become more adept at re-infecting even those with some immune protection against COVID-19.
Studies have estimated that the incidence of omicron is six to eight times higher than that of delta infections in the United States. But the true rate is unknown, because many infections go unreported while testing people at home.
Vaccines for COVID-19 and previous infections may protect against severe illness, but neither has been able to prevent some people from contracting the virus over and over again.
“This virus may now have mutated to be highly contagious but generally produces mild disease,” said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “This is a family of viruses that do not produce sustained immune protection, so it is possible that, as we already see, we will be able to get reinfected again periodically.”
And unlike the flu but like the common cold, the coronavirus is likely to become a year-round irritant.
Schaffner said that while waves of COVID-19 are more intense in the winter months, as people go home and the risk of infection increases, the coronavirus is also capable of outbreaks in the summer.
“The flu basically goes away from April to about September or October, and then we have a very dramatic seasonal outbreak,” he said. “COVID is not. We had an outbreak in the summer. We had an outbreak in the winter. It can cause illness at any time of the year.”
Experts said that a small percentage of people who contract COVID-19 are at risk of long-term symptoms, due to the virus’s ability to cause severe immune reactions in some that lead to nerve and organ damage.
“We’re handling it better, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a lot” about long-term COVID, said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside. “This is one of the concerns about this disease that They may not be a major concern for influenza or other circulating viruses, as they do not appear to have the long-term side effects of COVID.”
Glatt and Schaffner said there is one way to prevent long-term symptoms — stay on top of your COVID vaccinations.
“I think there is now some data that suggests that vaccination prevents some of those long-term complications,” Glatt said.
Schaffner added that there is room for improvement in this regard, as the emerging coronavirus (Covid-19) stabilizes to survive.
“Nearly half of the people who qualify for the third dose — I’m not talking about the fourth, just the third, you know, the first booster — haven’t received it yet,” he said. “And this third dose, the first booster dose, really does provide much safer protection against serious diseases. And the vaccines are free and widely available. So you can see that we still have to get a huge number of people, as we say, singing from the same page” .
Doctors said that even healthy people can develop long-term COVID symptoms, but vulnerable individuals need to be extra careful moving forward.
People with different risks will have different levels of concern about the constantly spreading virus.
“Are you older? Are you frail? Do you have noteworthy underlying diseases – heart disease, lung disease, diabetes? Are you obese? Are you frail?” Schaffner said. Surely these people would be better off being more careful.”
This means continuing to wear masks in public gatherings indoors and getting tested immediately if you develop symptoms, he said.
This is important, Schaffner said, “because we now have an antiviral that we can give you that will help prevent you from developing into a more serious disease.”
Also, he added, be prepared for enhanced COVID-19 footage, as doctors continue a cat-and-mouse game to counter the coronavirus’ ongoing attempts to evade people’s immune protection.
“This fall I expect — this is looking at a little crystal ball — that we will have an updated COVID vaccine, the COVID 2.0 vaccine as it was,” Schaffner said. “There might be a recommendation that we all go out this fall and get two vaccines, one in each arm” for coronavirus and influenza.
“It will not be an easy sale,” he added.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about COVID-19.
SOURCES: Amish Adalja, MD, senior researcher, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Baltimore; William Schaffner, MD, medical director, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Md.; Aaron Glatt, MD, chief, infectious diseases, Mount Sinai South Nassau, Oceanside, NY