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New Study Shows COVID-19 Likely to Be Seasonal

August 9, 2021

By Christopher Sirota, CPCU

Key Takeaway: A new study provides more evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 will ebb and flow with the change of seasons much like other respiratory viruses; also, another study indicates that symptoms caused by the virus are likely to become milder over the next ten years.

Experts reportedly have been speculating about whether the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 would behave like influenza with cases in the population increasing in the winter time and decreasing in the warmer seasons.

Now, MedicalXpress reports that researchers have examined enough data from multiple countries to support a general understanding that the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19 will likely peak during certain seasons.

Per the article, the researchers examined data from the following countries "that had relatively consistent social controls throughout the study period": Canada, Chile, Ethiopia, India and Germany. The researchers reportedly found that COVID-19 cases during the study period increased in colder, lower humidity winter seasons in temperate regions such as Canada, Chile, and Germany but in tropical regions the cases increased during the wet summer seasons; their findings suggest that seasonality of the virus cannot be explained only by looking at temperature and humidity.

If Seasonal, How might the Virus Change? And What is "JASC"?

Should we be concerned if the virus that causes COVID-19 returns each year? According to Science Daily, researchers in a separate study used a mathematical model to address this concern by forecasting how the severity of COVID-19 might change.

Researchers reportedly used a mathematical model which considered how the human immune system has responded to SARS-CoV-2 to make this forecast. More specifically, per the article, the model considered the following information collected from the current pandemic:

  • Exposure to a higher dose of the virus likely results in more severe symptoms and an increase in viral shedding.
  • Children generally do not develop severe symptoms.
  • Vaccinated adults and those adults that have previously had COVID-19 are generally protected against developing severe symptoms.

The results? Good news! After running the model with multiple scenarios the researchers reportedly concluded that over the next ten years, since most adults will become partially immune, the SARS-CoV-2 virus will likely become "Just Another Seasonal Coronavirus" (JASC) and severe infections will no longer be a concern; newly exposed children may get COVID-19 but they too will likely not experience severe symptoms.

One caveat noted in the article: "The models do not account for every potential influence on disease trajectory. For example, if new virus variants overcome partial immunity, COVID-19 could take a turn for the worse. In addition, the predictions rely on the key assumptions of the model holding up."

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