COVID-19 Will Become No More Virulent Than the Common Cold Eventually, Reveals New Study

The research brings some much-needed good news. But how valid is it?
Loukia Papadopoulos

As the pandemic rages on, it may be hard to imagine that someday it may not be so prominent. However, a new study published in the journal Science is now claiming that COVID-19 may soon be no more harmful than the common cold.


The common cold

"Our analysis of immunological and epidemiological data on endemic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) shows that infection-blocking immunity wanes rapidly, but disease-reducing immunity is long-lived. Our model, incorporating these components of immunity, recapitulates both the current severity of CoV-2 and the benign nature of HCoVs, suggesting that once the endemic phase is reached and primary exposure is in childhood, CoV-2 may be no more virulent than the common cold," write the study's authors.

The authors looked at the history of other known coronaviruses, six in total. Four of these are quite benign but the two others, SARS and MERS, are far more dangerous but have luckily been contained.

The other four, however, can be found often in today's populations. It is these four viruses that the authors studied to trace how COVID-19 may behave in a few years. 

Kids under five

Most prominently, they looked at how the viruses affected kids under five, whose immune systems are stronger than average. The researchers concluded that as populations are more and more exposed to the virus, it may become as benign as a simple common cold that barely affects children under five.

Although this is much-needed good news, it should be noted that it's not possible to really predict how the virus will evolve and how immunity will respond. None of the vaccines currently available offer 100% immunity against COVID-19, and as of yet, we don't have data on how long their effects are going to last.

This means that the pandemic may be with us a while longer. As such, we should all continue to follow all safety measures diligently while we hope for the best.

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