As the world continues its struggle to combat COVID-19 pandemic, scientists at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) points out that the infection may subsist for a while ranging from 18 to 24 months. Based on the trend of previous influenza pandemics the researchers warns that the world should be prepared for possible periodic resurgences of the disease over the next two years.
The scientists revealed that the COVID-19 appears to spread more easily than flu across the world because of its long incubation period (2 to 14 days), and occurrence of more asymptomatic cases (25%) and a higher basic reproductive number (R0) compared to other influenza viruses.
A higher R0 value signifies an increase in the average number of secondary infections due to a first infectious person in a population of completely susceptible individuals. This can lead to infection in more people before the population become immune and the pandemic ends.
“A relatively small fraction of the population has only been probably infected and infection rates likely vary substantially by geographic area. Given the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2, 60% to 70% of the population may need to be immune to reach a critical threshold of herd immunity to halt the pandemic” say the researchers in the CIDRAP report.
Scientists all over are putting in efforts to develop a safe vaccine or effective drugs that can work against the virus amidst the fear of the organism getting mutated. However, the experts say that the mutation seems to be happening at a slow pace as the genomic constitution of the isolates obtained from latest infections shared sequences nearly very similar to that of the original virus obtained from China.
“The sequences of the original isolates [of COVID-19] from China are very close to those in viruses circulating in the US and the rest of the world.” quoted Dr John Rose, a senior research scientist at Department of Pathology, Yale Medicine, who is currently working on a COVID-19 vaccine, in a report. He was also involved in developing a vaccine in response to the 2003 SARS epidemic.
The study recommends the government to develop concrete plans, including triggers for reinstituting mitigation measures, for dealing with disease peaks when they occur. The experts also warn that the officials should incorporate into their messaging the likelihood that the pandemic will not be over soon and to remain alert.