Covid: waiting for the new normality
What experts predicted since the start of the pandemic is now accepted among the general population: SARS-Cov-2 is here to stay. In view of stagnating vaccination rates and highly contagious variants like Delta, commentators are now wondering how much longer it will be before the virus is no longer a major threat.
“Reassuringly, it seems that in some countries the case numbers that rapidly multiplied due to the Delta variant have just as rapidly declined again. Even if this is only temporary, it puzzles scientists. Could it be that SARS-CoV-2 will play this game of hide-and-seek with us forever, getting weaker and then stronger until the entire population develops a natural immunity, only to morph into a new variant and start the next round? The pace at which this game is played out depends largely on vaccination rates, social behaviour, seasonal variations and the precautions taken. But will we have the patience to play our part?”
The virus can be brought under control
Despite all the imponderables, the global pandemic can be countered, evolutionary biologist Samuel Alizon and epidemiologist Mircea T. Sofonea explain in The Conversation France:
“Regardless of the sense of urgency arising from the medical situation, it is important to address the pandemic in the medium and long term. Predictions are very hard to make, because the virus and our immune systems evolve in a co-evolutionary process: the viruses mutate, and at the same time our immune responses change. If you want to anticipate the future, you must factor the effectiveness and duration of natural immunity as well as vaccine immunity into the equation, both of which reduce the pace of evolution of virus populations: fewer infections mean fewer mutations.”