Covid-19: a disease that will never be eradicated and a taste of the future

Covid-19: a disease that will never be eradicated and a taste of the future

Is the covid pandemic over soon?

“We’re not there yet,” the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in early December. While at least 90% of the world’s population has some form of immunity, “gaps in surveillance, testing, sequencing and vaccination continue to create the perfect conditions for the emergence of a new worrisome variant that could cause significant mortality,” warned Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The World Health Organization declares the end of a pandemic. “It is always a very important moment, often controversial,” notes Philippe Sansonetti, a microbiologist at the Pasteur Institute, as he ruled that the organization may not have been ready to “declare the end” of the pandemic. Instead, what experts expect is a gradual transformation of the epidemic into an endemic virus, which continues to circulate and cause regular resurgences of the disease. This is the case today with measles or seasonal flu.

Can we eradicate this disease one day?

Very unlikely. The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic that spread across the world in 2003 and caused nearly 800 deaths could have been stopped through isolation and quarantine measures. A virus, smallpox, had already been declared “eradicated” in 1980 thanks to a vaccination campaign organized by the World Health Organization.

But this scenario is still extremely rare. “To eradicate the virus, it is essential that the disease is clinically visible, that there is no animal reservoir, and that there is a highly effective vaccine that protects life. Covid-19 ticks all the wrong boxes,” assures Philippe Sansonetti. Some carriers of Covid-19 do not They already show symptoms, which affects isolation measures.Unlike smallpox, the virus is transmitted to animals and can continue to circulate between them and infect humans again.Finally, vaccines provide good protection against severe forms of the disease but little against reinfection, and the doses are still anabolic steroid essential.

Even if it were all right for us all to believe that, we have no reason to believe he would ever become more likable.

What are the main risks ahead?

For Etienne Simon Laurier, director of the Evolutionary Genomics Unit for RNA Viruses at the Pasteur Institute, “today we allow the virus to circulate too much”: every time it infects a person, mutations can appear. It is likely to cause it. to evolve into more or less severe forms. “Even if it were appropriate for all of us to believe it, we have no reason to believe it would become more sympathetic.”

In addition, other respiratory viruses can emerge: since the emergence of Sras, Mers and Sars-Cov2, “we have found dozens of coronaviruses in bats that can potentially infect humans,” notes Arnaud Fontanet, a specialist in emerging diseases at the institute. Pasteur.

About 60%/70% of emerging diseases are of zoonotic origin, i.e. transmitted naturally from vertebrate animals to humans and vice versa. By occupying more and more swathes of the world, by traveling, by intensifying their interactions with animals, humans are contributing to ecosystem disruption and favoring the transmission of viruses.

How to prepare for it?

For Arnaud Fontanet, “a lot can and should be done at the beginning of an epidemic”. And so, in 2020, Denmark decided to confinement very early, which allowed them to get out of it more quickly. Another essential: “having the ability to develop tests very early,” at the start of an epidemic, so as to isolate patients very quickly. “Unfortunately, today we are still in reaction, not in anticipation,” the researcher laments.

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