The coronavirus could eventually become a seasonal disease that ebbs in the U.S. during the warmer months but returns in the fall, warned the nation’s top expert in infectious diseases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a White House briefing on the spread of COVID-19 that there is a chance of the virus becoming seasonal, which experts have said would follow the same pattern of the flu or common colds. As The Hill reported, Fauci told reporters that more cases of the novel coronavirus have already been on the increase in the southern hemisphere as colder temperatures start to set in there.
Experts have not yet been sure if the novel coronavirus would start to slow in the warmer and more humid weather that is coming as spring sets in across the northern hemisphere, but The Hill noted that there is growing research suggesting that it might. That would mean the pandemic eases across the hardest-hit areas in Europe and North America before returning again with a strong wave in the fall.
“I know we’ll be successful in putting this down now, but we really need to be prepared for another cycle,” Fauci said.
As The Inquisitr reported in February, some experts were already warning that COVID-19 may become a disease that strikes each year, following the same pattern of the flu. Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch said in an interview with The Atlantic that he expects somewhere between 40 percent and 70 percent of the world to be infected with the virus, with a majority of people having light symptoms that will allow them to fight it off from their homes, but then the disease will return.
“If [coronavirus] follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, ‘cold and flu season’ could become ‘cold and flu and COVID-19 season,'” the report noted.
Fauci and others have said that the coming weeks and months will be critical as researchers develop treatments and a vaccine, with early trials already starting. He told reporters on Wednesday that he hoped a vaccine could be ready for the next cycle of the virus, making it far less deadly and affect a lower number of people. That emphasizes the current importance of social distancing efforts, which experts say will slow the initial spread of the virus out over a longer time frame and allow hospital systems to keep up with the demand.