Experts are confident that the coronavirus will become seasonal

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One of the many unknowns that surround the SARS-CoV-2, causing the covid-19 disease, is whether or not this virus will become seasonal, that is, if it will end up hitting the population of temperate climates especially in winter. Not a few scientists believe that this will be the case, but there are still no conclusive data.

Europe did not expect this second wave of covid-19 to hit so hard. The strain of SARS-CoV-2 now plaguing the continent is more contagious, if not deadlier. “The virus has behaved differently than we expected,” the director of the Covid-19 Monitoring Unit in Catalonia explains to this newspaper, Jacobo Mendioroz.

“We were not expecting this growth. My theory is that the coronavirus has a certain seasonal component, like the flu, “he says.” In summer we managed to control it; in winter, no. I remember a date very well: the 4th of October. That day began to shoot across Europe, “says Mendioroz. Coronaviruses, an extensive family of viruses, are responsible for, among other diseases, the common cold, which is seasonal, recalls this epidemiologist. It is not unreasonable to think that SARS-CoV-2 could also become seasonal.

“Seasonal viruses have a specific time and duration. This has not happened with the coronavirus. Now, the first time a virus appears it is very difficult to know if it is seasonal. It is the example of the 2009 pandemic flu: It emerged in April and lasted a year and a half. Afterwards it was coupled to the seasonal mode like the rest of the flu viruses “, points out the Head of Infectious Diseases of the Vall d’Hebron Hospital (Barcelona), Benito Almirante, who believes that in him 2022 it will be possible to know if the SARS-CoV-2 will be more limited or not to autumn and winter.

“The population that becomes infected, that is, the extent of herd immunity, is what makes a virus seasonal. It is possible that in the fall of 2022, between 40% and 50% of humanity has been infected and will have immunity. There we will know if it is seasonal, “he adds. Most respiratory viruses have a” seasonal behavior, “but” not all, “Admiral warns.

Pandemic flu
from 2009,
which lasted 18 months, affected the Spanish especially in August

In 2009, recalls this infectologist, the pandemic flu affected Europe in summer. It lasted 18 months. In August was when there were more cases in Spain, because the population had not been in contact with the virus previously. “But there was a difference with respect to the current coronavirus: then they did not take protection measures like now. It affected a lot of people, some 1.5 billion people in the world. The sanitation did not collapse because the severity was less. In the case of the coronavirus, it is possible that the progression is slower due to all the prevention measures, “he says.

Restrictive measures

Admiral explains that the fact that the new variant of coronavirus that now plagues Europe is more contagious (“it appeared for the first time in the seasonal workers of Lleida and Huesca and has spread throughout the continent,” he says) “It doesn’t make vaccine research any more difficult” because this strain “does not affect the immune response of people.” “The vaccine, in principle, does not have to be modified. For the vaccine to be ineffective, there must be a major change. This virus has always had minor changes, something positive,” he says.

The infectologist predicts that the current restriction measures, both in Catalonia and in Spain, will have to be applied during the next “four or eight weeks”. “No measure works in two weeks. At a maximum of 14 days, the flattening of the curve is achieved. The decline lasts between four and six more weeks. It is reasonable to think that these measures will have to be maintained, at least, between four and six weeks. “

The Admiral infectologist advocates
for keeping the restrictions four
or eight more weeks

He also believes that there are “many possibilities” that the current movement limitation be held “well into next year”, that is, “three or four months”. “First the internal movement will be allowed in each one of the communities and later between the autonomies”, he predicts.

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