The Future of the Coronavirus? An Annoying Childhood Infection
Millions of individuals have now been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus; soon, we can hope for the pandemic’s end. Researchers are now analyzing what the post-vaccine world may look like, and they predict that COVID-19 might resemble the common cold in the near future. Sounds comforting, isn’t it? Read on to get further details on this prediction.
One study found that once most adults are inoculated, either from the natural infection or vaccination, the novel coronavirus will no longer be a bigger threat than the common cold.
The reason the novel coronavirus was a severe threat is that it is an unconventional pathogen that can easily subdue your immune system, which hasn’t been trained to fight it. We can overcome this threat once most adults have been exposed to the virus or the vaccine.
How Safe Will Be Children?
As the bodies of children are constantly subjected to new pathogens, they are better at fighting off the virus than adults. However, coronavirus will most probably continue to remain a treat for children younger than five years of age as they have a weak immune system.
How Does A Vaccine Work?
Vaccines work by instructing the immune system to detect and combat pathogens, including bacteria or viruses. For this, certain molecules from the pathogen need to be introduced to your body to trigger an immune system response. These molecules are termed “antigens” and are found in all bacteria and viruses.
When antigens are injected into the body, your immune system learns to identify them as foreign invaders, produce antibodies, and reconcile them for the future. The next time the bacteria or virus comes into contact with your body, the immune system recognizes the antigens immediately and fights aggressively before the pathogen can spread and cause the disease.
Achieving Herd Immunity From The Novel Coronavirus
Herd immunity, also called community immunity, has been successful in eliminating the diseases that were once devastating, without the need to vaccinate every individual. But, what is herd immunity, and how does it work?
Well, you may be startled by the fact that the vaccines don’t just work on an individual level; they can protect the entire population. Once an adequate number of people are vaccinated, opportunities for the virus outbreak becomes so low that even the people who aren't vaccinated benefit.
Herd immunity occurs because when the virus or bacteria don’t find enough eligible hosts to support it, they will disappear entirely. This is pivotal because there will always be a significant percentage of people that cannot be vaccinated, including:
- Young children
- People with severe allergies
- Elderly people
- People with compromised immune systems
- Pregnant women
Fortunately, with herd immunity, these people are kept protected as the disease never gets a chance to spread through a population.
What Are The Different Types Of Vaccines Available?
Vaccines are broadly categorized into the following four categories:
- Vaccines that are based on the complete virus (this could be either inactivated or attenuated vaccines)
- non-replicating virus vector vaccines that utilize benign virus as a vector, which carries the antigen of the novel coronavirus
- Nucleic-acid vaccines that contain genetic material such as DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to an individual, serving human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine
- Protein subunit vaccines in which the synthesized proteins of the novel coronavirus and an adjuvant (or booster) is offered as a vaccine
The novel coronavirus will likely become endemic, which refers to a condition in which a pathogen only circulates at low levels and hardly causes any serious illness. The time it will take to reach an endemic state depends upon how quickly the infection transmits and how quickly its vaccination is rolled out.
Researchers studied about six other human coronaviruses for indications of the fate of the new pathogen. These coronaviruses include four that cause the common cold, in addition to the SERS and MERS viruses. They found that the four common cold viruses are endemic and cause only mild symptoms. On the other hand, SARS and MERS made people severely ill, but they remain restricted to a geographical area.
All these coronaviruses trigger a similar immune response, but the novel coronavirus shares maximum characteristics with the common cold coronaviruses.
Scientists have found that most children catch the common cold for the first time between 3 and 5 years of age. After that, they may become ill again and again, strengthening their immune system and circulating the virus. However, they don’t become severely ill with the virus. Scientists predict a similar future for the novel coronavirus.
Researchers are analyzing what the post-vaccine world may look like, and they predict that COVID-19 might resemble the common cold in the future. Know more.
With the COVID-19 vaccines, it may take several years for the novel coronavirus to reach the endemic state. However, there’s an alternative way too that’s the fastest but also the worst. The cost of herd immunity would be widespread virus transmission and death along the way.
Will vaccines eliminate the virus entirely? The terrible news is that the vaccines are unlikely to eliminate the virus wholly. The virus will stay, though benign, which won’t cause serious illness or death.
One other prediction of scientists is that the novel coronavirus may resemble the seasonal flu viruses, which is mild a couple of years, and more deadly in others. The new coronavirus's new variants that may shun the immune system response could also make things worse.
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