Your “great-great-great-grandchildren” will still need immunization against COVID-19, a Mayo Clinic doctor recently explained.
The news: Dr. Gregory Poland, who works with immunogenetics of vaccine response at the Mayo Clinic, recently told MarketWatch and Barron’s in a video interview on Wednesday that COVID-19 will never go away because it continues to have variants, unlike other diseases, like measles.
- “We’re hoping one day (measles) will be eradicated. Will that happen with coronavirus? No, it will not,” Poland said. “We are not yet at any stage where we could predict endemicity. We’re not going to eradicate it. We have an animal reservoir now — white-tailed deer in the U.S. — that are infected with SARS-CoV-2, for example.”
- “So let me make a prediction, which will be hard for any of you to hold me to because we will all be dead by then, but your great-great-great-grandchildren will still be getting immunized against coronavirus,” he added. “How can I even say such a thing? If you got your flu vaccine this fall you were immunized against a strain of influenza that showed up in 1918 and caused a pandemic.”
Why this matters: Experts have seen the omicron variant as a potential endgame for the pandemic since enough people will have immunity to COVID-19 that society can work normally again.
- These comments suggest COVID-19 will always be around in some form.
- COVID-19 could develop into something like the flu, where each year a different strain circulates but our vaccine and natural immunity keep many people safe.
Similar thoughts: Bill Gates said in a Twitter Q&A that COVID-19 will likely still be around in the future but it will take on a different form than before.
- “As countries experience their Omicron wave health systems will be challenged. Most of the severe cases will be unvaccinated people. Once Omicron goes through a country then the rest of the year should see far fewer cases so Covid can be treated more like seasonal flu,” he said.
The bottom line: COVID-19 doesn’t appear to be going anyway. The virus can still circulate. The extent of the damage is the key to understanding what happens next for our society.