Nobody can say with certainty what life with Sars-CoV-2 will look like in the future. It is likely that numerous serious Covid-19 diseases and deaths from the virus will still occur worldwide. But now researchers from the USA have presented a study result in which they give the all-clear.
Covid-19 vaccinations could even become unnecessary
Jennie Lavine’s team from Emory University in Atlanta has made a series of model calculations for the future development of Sars-CoV-2. Based on their results, the researchers assume that Sars-CoV-2 will also develop into an endemic pathogen, i.e. one that then only occurs in certain regions. According to the infectiologist Lavine, Sars-CoV-2 is safe for mankind in the long term. In their statements, which were published in the specialist journal “Science”, the researchers even go one step further: They consider it possible that Covid-19 vaccinations could be unnecessary in the future.
Four known coronaviruses
To develop their model, the research team used the immunological and epidemiological data of the four known human coronaviruses. They are scientifically named NL63, 229E, OC43 and HKU1. All four pathogens repeatedly cause epidemics in different regions of the world, which mainly involve children between the ages of three and five. However, these infectious diseases, as well as Covid-19 in this age group, rarely show severe courses or complications, and mortality is also very low.
It is already known that there is only a short, complete immunity after infection with one of the four known coronaviruses. According to a publication from 2009, one can be infected again with the coronavirus 229E after one year, because after this time there is a decrease in the antibodies formed. A comparable development is also indicated with infection with Sars-CoV-2. According to the test results, however, a new infection with 229E resulted in a shortened virus excretion. In addition, the subjects showed no symptoms.
Lifelong partial immunity through primary vaccination
Lavine’s team therefore assumes that people acquire lifelong partial immunity through their first coronavirus infection. This could even be strengthened by further infections. It is therefore conceivable that only a few elderly people would actually get it. However, it is also conceivable that the elderly could become infected with coronaviruses, not notice anything and pass the virus on to children. According to Lavine, neither the early onset of the disease nor the high rate of infection in infants and children can be explained without the involvement of older people.
Following this logic, the research team assumes that Sars-CoV-2 will also become an endemic pathogen. In this case, the vaccinations that have just started could be discontinued worldwide in a few years. The acquired partial immunity in the older population group would only rarely lead to severe disease and death. Children, in turn, would need the infection in order to build up partial immunity. If, however, serious illnesses should arise as a result of an initial infection in children, then these would have to be protected by a vaccination.