Srinagar: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday said Covid-19 will likely become a seasonal illness similar to flu that peaks in fall and winter. “Covid-19 pandemic will end at some point, but the virus will continue to circulate in the human population,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“However, the impact of the virus in terms of deaths, illness and the need for social isolation will lessen. Cases will wax and wane over time. Outbreaks will pop up here and there,” he said.
“Covid-19 will become yet another infection joining many other diseases that humanity has learned to live with. We will probably be living with this virus for rest of our lives,” he added.
Dr Hassan said Covid-19 could transform into a milder illness that can be managed seasonally like the annual flu.
“The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic could offer a clue about the course of Covid-19,” he said.
The DAK President said H1N1 pandemic was over in about 16 months, but the virus did not disappear. Instead it has turned into a seasonal flu strain that circulates all years, and peaks during winter. Covid-19 could ultimately become another seasonal respiratory virus, like the four other coronaviruses that cause a sizeable proportion of common colds.
“The seasonality of respiratory viruses is affected by number of factors,” he said.
“Flu, for example tends to peak in winter because people spend more time indoors in close proximity to each other, our immune system gets weakened in cold weather due to vitamin D deficiency and the flu virus is more stable in lower temperature.”
“The latest knowledge on the stability and transmission of Covid-19 suggests that the novel virus might follow a similar pattern,” Dr Nisar said.
“That will happen only once the pandemic phase of Covid-19 will be over,” he said adding “Covid-19 is still in a pandemic phase because infections continue to increase across the globe and many people are still susceptible.”
“Vaccination is critical to end the pandemic phase of the virus. When enough people will get vaccination against the virus, and that too quickly, we may see an end to the pandemic soon. Even with vaccination, virus is going to stay around and cause smaller outbreaks, much like seasonal flu. And, we may need booster shots of Covid-19 vaccine on regular basis to maintain immunization over time,” said Dr Nisar.