Endemic: what it is and why the coronavirus could follow that path
The question that everyone has been asking for almost two years is when will the coronavirus pandemic become endemic, as with other diseases. After all that waiting time, new information shared by the regional director of the WHO, Hans Kluge, opened the hopes that finally that moment arrives.
According to your statements to the News Agency AFP, that moment will arrive towards the region of Europe in a few more months, but he clarified that it will be once control the wave of infections with the omicron variant. “There will be global immunity for quite a few weeks and months, either because of the vaccine or because people have immunity because of the infection, and also because of reduced seasonality,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kluge considered that the new omicron variant It will cause 60% of Europeans to become infected before March, which gives way to a new phase of the coronavirus pandemic in the region and could be the final stretch. “We anticipate that there will be a period of calm before the Covid-19 returns towards the end of the year, but not necessarily the return of the pandemic,” he said.
Although the news generates greater tranquility, the specialist warned that it was still too early to consider the virus becoming endemic. “There is a lot of talk about endemic, but endemic means that it is possible to predict what is going to happen. This virus has surprised us more than once, so we have to be very careful,” he analyzed.
What is an endemic
Unlike the epidemic, that according to the WHO it is a disease that spreads rapidly in a population and affects a large number of people in a short time, the characteristic of the endemic is stability.
This means that the disease is stationary in a population. Although it does not disappear, it is limited to a region, to an epidemiological population at risk or to seasonality. Although it can cause deaths, makes it controllable. A typical example of this is the malaria.
Consequently, and complying with the appropriate measures, the population can live with the disease and carry on with your usual activities. According to the sayings of the virologist researcher of the Stony Brook State University In New York, Jerome Cello, a virus becomes endemic when your circulation begins to decrease and the pictures are milder.
“We are going to endemicity, because we have a vaccine and there has been a lot of infection that generates natural immunity, which will cause there to be less transmission, hospitalizations and deaths”, he said in dialogue with LA NACION.
And he added: “The virus will continue to circulate. If one looks historically, many respiratory virus pandemics start with high lethality, transit and end up in endemic circulation, some with buds”.
Finally, regarding whether this health situation will be achieved everywhere in the world, he clarified that it will be depends on the degree of vaccination existing, how many infected, what weather there and what interaction it happens between people.
Why is Covid-19 not yet declared endemic?
Unlike other opinions, Catherine Smallwood, one of the main officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Europe, showed his disagreement with the fact of treating Covid-19 as an endemic disease and gave his point of view at a press conference held by the institution last Tuesday. “The conditions for it are not met,” he launched.
“The endemicity assumes a certain stability of virus circulation at predictable levels.s and known and predictable waves of epidemic transmission, but, what we see right now, going into 2022, is nowhere near that.”, aclaró Smallwood.
In this sense, he reiterated: “There remains a huge amount of uncertainty.” And I add: “We still have a virus that is evolving very quickly and posing new challenges, so certainly we are not at the point of considering it endemic. It is difficult to determine the number of cases for this year.
Likewise, the expert did not rule out that Covid-19 could become an endemic disease, “but considering it in 2022 is difficult with this scenario.” Finally, Catherine pointed out that everything will happen it depends on how the virus is responded to and the extent of vaccination in different countries, both in Europe and in the rest of the world.