We are witnessing a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in the recent past. While many have started to believe that the highly infectious disease has now become seasonal, scientists are of the view that the coronavirus will continue to cause mini-waves and has not yet become seasonal. The article has been published in the science journal Nature.
Scientists have long predicted that the effect of SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, will tone down with the passage of time. They are of the view that the coronavirus pandemic will end up into a seasonal pattern of spread, like influenza has.
However, newer variants like XBB.1.16 have fueled a series of mini waves. “It seems increasingly unlikely that the coronavirus pandemic will settle into a flu-like rhythm very soon,” the scientists said in Nature.
“The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t slowed down in the last year and I don’t see what factors would cause it do so at this point,” Trevor Bedford, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington, was quoted as saying.
“It will be a continually circulating respiratory disease. It may be less seasonal than things we`re used to,” he added.
Bedford noted that several countries around the world are seeing fresh surges in Covid about “three or four times each year, driven largely by the breakneck pace at which the virus continues to change”.
“Currently, SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein, in which most immunity-evading mutations occur, is evolving at twice the rate of a similar protein in seasonal influenza and about 10 times as quickly as those of cold-causing `seasonal` coronaviruses”.
XBB.1.16 displaced other variants in India to become the dominant one
For instance, the XBB.1.16 displaced other variants in India to become the dominant one. This has resulted in a surge in the number of cases in the recent past.
Similarly in the United Kingdom, there’s a 100 per cent annual `attack rate`, Bedford said. In the future, “we can still imagine 50 per cent attack rates every year, half the population getting infected”, compared with around 20 per cent with influenza.