A colored scanning electron microscope image of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Image Credit: NIAID
Thanks to the sniffing noses, coughs, and colds that accompany the colder months of the year, we're all too familiar with the seasonal patterns of some respiratory viruses. A new review published in Frontiers in Public Health suggests that COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is likely to catch up and become seasonal in temperate countries, but only if herd immunity has been achieved. Until then, COVID-19 will continue to circulate across the seasons. These conclusions underscore the absolute importance of the public health action that is needed to combat the virus.
The study's lead author, Dr. Hassan Zaraket of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon warns that "COVID-19 will stay here and cause outbreaks throughout the year until herd immunity is achieved. Therefore, the public will do so." must learn to live with it and continue to practice the best preventive measures, including wearing masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and avoidance of gatherings. "
The cooperating author Dr. Hadi Yassine of Qatar University in Doha confirms and explains that there could be multiple waves of COVID-19 before herd immunity is achieved.
We know that many respiratory viruses follow seasonal patterns, especially in temperate regions. For example, influenza and various types of coronaviruses that cause colds are known to peak in winter in temperate regions but circulate year round in tropical regions. The authors reviewed these seasonal viruses and examined the virus and host factors that control their seasonality, as well as the latest findings on the stability and transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
The researchers explain that virus survival in the air and on surfaces affects humans' susceptibility to infection and human behavior, such as B. the crowd indoors, depending on the season due to temperature and humidity changes. These factors affect the transmission of respiratory viruses at different times of the year.
Compared to other respiratory viruses such as the flu, however, COVID-19 has a higher transmission rate (R0), at least in part due to circulation in a largely immunologically naive population.
This means that, unlike the flu and other respiratory viruses, the seasonal factors of the viruses cannot stop the spread of COVID-19 in the summer months. However, once herd immunity is achieved through natural infections and vaccinations, the R0 should drop significantly, making the virus more susceptible to seasonal factors.
Such seasonality has been reported for other coronaviruses, including those that have emerged more recently such as NL63 and HKU1, which follow the same pattern of circulation as influenza.
"This remains a novel virus, and despite the rapidly growing scientific evidence, there are still things that are unknown. Whether or not our predictions will be correct remains to be seen in the future. But we think it is very likely given our circumstances. So far, we know that like other coronaviruses, COVID-19 will become seasonal at some point, "adds Zaraket.
Dr. Yassine states that "the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rate in the world was recorded in the Gulf States regardless of the hot summer season. While this is largely attributed to the rapid spread of viruses in closed communities, it confirms the need for tight control measures to contain it virus spread until herd immunity is achieved ".
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Frontiers in Public Health, DOI: 10.3389 / fpubh.2020.567184, www.frontiersin.org/articles/1… 2020.567184 / abstract
Scientists Predict COVID-19 Will Become Seasonal Virus – But Not Yet (2020, Sep 15)
accessed on September 15, 2020
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