becoming another illness in the sea of seasonal colds and flus.
Some experts say the new coronavirus will probably never disappear. Instead, it will likely become like the flu and other respiratory viruses that constantly circulate in the human population and fluctuate with the seasons.
Coronaviruses and other respiratory illnesses tend to retreat in hotter, more humid weather. But even if the new coronavirus naturally subsides come spring, it could return in the winter.
The new coronavirus is likely here to stay.
Experts think it will probably become a permanent part of the human respiratory-virus repertoire. “This is going to be with us for some time — it’s endemic in human populations and not going to go away without a vaccine,” Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Business Insider.
The virus causes a disease called COVID-19 that’s marked by fevers, coughing, and occasionally severe lung infections. But it doesn’t mean the coronavirus would go away for good. Even if the coronavirus becomes seasonal, it’s not going anywhere. If the coronavirus winds up fluctuating with the seasons like the flu, it could retreat in summer and return in the fall and winter each year.
“We know respiratory viruses are very seasonal, but not exclusively,” William Schaffner, an infectious-disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, told CNN. “One would hope that the gradual spring will help this virus recede. We can’t be sure of that.”
Respiratory viruses are seasonal because cooler temperatures help harden a protective gel-like coating that surrounds the virus particles while they’re in the air. A stronger shell allows them to survive long enough in the air to travel from one person to the next.
The flu virus “survives better in cool, dry temperatures,” Amanda Simanek, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, told Insider.
But of course, the northern and southern hemispheres don’t experience the same seasons at the same time. So once China and the US see warmer weather, countries in South America and Oceania will be entering winter. Plus, some countries don’t experience dramatic seasonal changes at all, so “the flu circulates there year round,” Adalja said.
Another virus that circulates in the community
Four other human coronaviruses are already endemic in the global population. They’re all seasonal, and they typically cause mild common colds, though each can cause pneumonia.
According to Adalja, the new coronavirus may very well be endemic now, too — a member of the club of “community-acquired,” constantly circulating coronaviruses.
“It’s something established in the community,” he said.