The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to become an epidemic by the fall or winter, which can be expected to repeat itself each year, but be controlled with vaccine boosters, according to a prominent German virologist.
Christian Drosten has said that he believes the number of coronavirus cases will increase after the summer, but that the disease will be controllable. While an increase was likely to be described as a “fourth wave,” he said, it would in all likelihood usher in a “new endemic phase” or a “seasonal epidemic” that would repeat itself for several years but could be kept under control through vaccine refills.
Drosten, the head of virology at Berlin’s university hospital Charité, who has been a key and consistent voice in advising the government and public health policy makers during the pandemic, said that despite clear indications Since the virus was increasingly under control, this was in danger of being undermined by people who were unable to receive their second puncture or who believed that vaccination was no longer necessary.
“Right now we are in a transitional phrase,” Drosten said in Crown update, a popular weekly podcast from the German radio station NDR. “The next objective we have to look at as a society is that 80% of the adult population is fully vaccinated.” He said all expectations were that Germany would have reached that goal by late August or mid-September. Currently, 23% have received a complete vaccination and 47% have received one dose.
Germany is emerging from a third wave of the virus and its most severe lockdown yet. In the latest lifting of restrictions, on Wednesday, schools in Berlin reopened for the first time since December. On average, between 800,000 and 1.2 million doses of vaccine are administered each day, as a campaign that started just over five months ago and was initially slow to take off is now in full swing.
Drosten said the key topics of discussion in the coming months would be vaccinating children and assessing how quickly those who have been vaccinated lose their immunity.
“It will probably be especially the older people who do not react as strongly to the vaccine anyway, who will show a clear loss of immunity after half a year or a whole year, while the young are not as likely to do so,” he said. .
By fall, he expects to see an “increasingly competitive picture of immune escape variants because the immune status of the population will be more heterogeneous.” Currently, he said, all eyes are on the Delta variant, first discovered in India, which is spreading across most of the UK, but currently accounts for only about 2% of new cases in Germany.
Drosten said he expected it to become more prominent in Germany in the coming weeks, but not necessarily as dominant as it is in the UK.
His biggest concern, he said, was the unwillingness among Germans to get vaccinated, and he said further attempts would have to be made to motivate people to get a vaccine.
“We have some groups that have not yet been vaccinated, we have those that have been vaccinated once and then have lost the momentum to get the second, we have children, and all these groups will have to exist side by side. . “He said he hoped this would lead to local outbreaks, but” no longer a pandemic wave. “
In the coming winter, the expected increase in cases, in particular because the advantage of a “summer effect” is lost, “will probably be interpreted in the future as the first normal endemic effect of winter”. Covid 19 would behave like more established coronavirus strains that induce cold-like symptoms, he said.