Will COVID-19 Become a Routine Illness?

September 17, 2021 – Only a few months ago, you would have been forgiven for thinking that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was coming to an end. With a large number of vaccines available to those who wanted them and low positive case rates in hospitals, it seemed as if we had finally turned a corner after dealing with this for over a year. Now, it seems more likely that COVID-19 could become seasonal, recurring illness in the future. 

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, virologists and epidemiologists say that COVID-19 could “become a routine illness like a common cold or the flu one day.”

The Delta variant has proven to be uncontrollable and more contagious than before, making it impossible to get rid of. Catherine O’Neal, the chief medical officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge told The Journal, “This virus will never leave us.” 

If that turns out to be the case, then COVID-19 will just become another virus that doctors will have to treat, another reason for a cough, and one more immunization to get. 

“When or even whether COVID-19 settles into that status depends on how many more people get vaccinated, and how soon,” said Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine.  

Experts are already urging people to get their flu and COVID vaccines at the same time. With virtually no flu last year, this year could be a rough flu season, especially coupled with the Delta variant and other emerging COVID variants. 

Even back in February of this year, ABC News reported that COVID-19 could become seasonal. Jennie Lavine, a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University, said, “If CoV-2 experiences antigenic evolution at rates that are similar to influenza, annual shots for vulnerable populations may well be necessary. This is something we will need to continue to measure in the coming years.”