Will COVID-19 Become Seasonal?

By Chelsie Evans on March 20 2020 in Answer

COVID-19 is not the same as the seasonal flu. Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash
COVID-19 is not the same as the seasonal flu. Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash
  • The 2003 SARS outbreak died out in July.
  • There are 4 coronavirus' in circulation in humans but they are similar to a mild cold.
  • COVID-19 is not the same as the flu, it is much more severe.

COVID-19 is new, so the data and information available can change quickly. Given the rapid spread of the virus, there are a lot of unknowns. The uncertainties have many people seeking answers and sharing information from sources that may not be credible. Misinformation can lead to increased fear, confusion, and mistrust. One falsehood being spread is that coronavirus is like the flu. COVID-19 is not the seasonal flu. COVID-19 is a severe respiratory disease that is thought to be zoonotic.

Larger Threat

COVID-19 is a larger threat than SARS. Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

Symptoms are similar to the flu, but SARS-CoV-2 is a much larger threat. Influenza usually disappears when warmer temperatures arise, and many people are hoping that COVID-19 will disappear as well. Since not enough is officially known at this time about novel coronavirus, scientists can only hypothesize off of existing data. The 2003 SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak died out in July, suggesting that it may have been seasonal. However, this may also be because containment measures were successful. MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) still pops up from time to time in the Middle East, which has a hot climate. Currently, there are four coronaviruses that have been circulating in humans for many years now. These viruses cause mild colds from year to year and follow the flu as seasonal illnesses.  

Theories

COVID-19  may not disappear with warmer temperatures, and there is no certainty until scientists further explore and test how the virus reacts in different climates. There are a few scenarios that scientists are predicting. One scenario is that novel coronavirus will disappear in summer months and never been seen again, or it may become endemic like the flu. Another theory is that the virus may not disappear in the summer and will continue to spread across the globe until lockdowns and travel bans kill the virus and it is never seen again (like SARS). Since nothing is certain at this time, the public should be following the advice of their local government and keeping up to date on developments via credible sources like the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and the WHO (World Health Organization).  

Thinking about a future where SARS-CoV-2 becomes apart of our seasonal flu landscape is highly unsettling, but if this does become the case then pharmaceutical companies will have a larger incentive to create and distribute a vaccine.

Scientists are wary to give false hope that humanity will have reprieve come summer, and they are recommending people practice strict social distancing in affected areas and wash their hands regularly. 

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