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A new article by researchers from the Mailman School of Columbia (United States) Jeffrey Shaman and Marta Galanti explores the potential for the COVID-19 virus to become endemic, a regular feature that produces recurrent outbreaks in humans.

In your work, published in the journal ‘Science’, identify crucial contributing factors, including the risk of reinfection, availability and efficacy of the vaccine, as well as potential seasonality and interactions with other infections viruses that can modulate virus transmission.

Shaman is a leading authority in modeling infectious disease outbreaks such as SARS-CoV-2 and influenza. He was one of the first to recognize the importance of asymptomatic spread and the effectiveness of containment measures, and published widely cited estimates of the hypothetical lives saved if the confinement had occurred earlier.

Their new work explores a potential scenario in which immunity to SARS-CoV-2, either through infection or a vaccine, declines within one year, a rate similar to that seen for the endemic betacoronavirus that causes a mild respiratory illness. The result would be annual outbreaks of COVID-19.

On the other hand, if immunity to SARS-CoV-2 were longer, perhaps through the protection provided by the immune response to infection with other endemic coronaviruses, you could experience what initially appears to be a COVID-19 elimination followed by a resurgence after a few years. Other contributing factors are the availability and efficacy of the vaccine and the innate seasonality of the virus.

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