Coronavirus will resemble the common cold, scientists predict

The study reveals that most adults would be immune against the infection as the pandemic evolves, either after contracting the virus or by vaccination.

While countries all over the world execute mass vaccination campaigns, new research indicates that the virus might stay forever and may become a part of our lives as a mere common cold. Experts suggest that the deadliness of the virus will progressively wear off, once everyone has been exposed to the virus or the vaccine. 

According to the study, which was recently published in the journal Science, the virus will be of concern only for children younger than 5 years of age, accompanied by a mild common cold or no symptoms at all. The reason behind this speculation is that while adults prove to be more immune against pathogens, children are not likely to withstand unfamiliar pathogens entering their bodies, thereby increasing their vulnerability to the virus. 

The study has shown that the severeness caused by the novel coronavirus is due to the unpreparedness of an adult immune system to fight against the new pathogens, which is unfamiliar to the body. 

“The timing of how long it takes to get this sort of endemic state depends on how quickly the disease is spreading, and how quickly the vaccination is rolled out,” said Dr. Jennie Lavine, who is a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University in Atlanta and the lead author of the study.

To analyze the characteristics of the coronavirus with other such viruses, Dr. Levine and her team studied six other human coronaviruses, out of which, four of them caused the common cold and the other two – SARS and MERS viruses. The team found that the new coronavirus was most similar to the common cold coronaviruses, and noted that the common cold infections occur on average at 3 to 5 years of age. Subsequently, people may become infected again, thereby boosting their immunity against the infection, without necessarily being ill. Researchers presume that this might also be the case with the coronavirus in the future.

Experts believe that the endemic status of the virus can be achieved by an efficient vaccine roll-out, the faster people can be immunized the better. According to Dr. Shane Croty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology at San Diego, if the vaccines prevent people from transmitting the virus, “then it becomes a lot more like the measles scenario, where you vaccinate everybody, including kids, and you really don’t see the virus infecting people anymore.”




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