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'When will it end?': How a changing virus is reshaping scientists’ views on COVID-19


https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN2AV1T1

Chris Murray, a University of Washington disease expert whose projections on COVID-19 infections and deaths are closely followed worldwide, is changing his assumptions about the course of the pandemic.

Murray had until recently been hopeful that the discovery of several effective vaccines could help countries achieve herd immunity, or nearly eliminate transmission through a combination of inoculation and previous infection. But in the last month, data from a vaccine trial in South Africa showed not only that a rapidly-spreading coronavirus variant could dampen the effect of the vaccine, it could also evade natural immunity in people who had been previously infected.

“I couldn’t sleep” after seeing the data, Murray, director of the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told Reuters. “When will it end?” he asked himself, referring to the pandemic. He is currently updating his model to account for variants’ ability to escape natural immunity and expects to provide new projections as early as this week.

A new consensus is emerging among scientists, according to Reuters interviews with 18 specialists who closely track the pandemic or are working to curb its impact. Many described how the breakthrough late last year of two vaccines with around 95% efficacy against COVID-19 had initially sparked hope that the virus could be largely contained, similar to the way measles has been.

But, they say, data in recent weeks on new variants from South Africa and Brazil has undercut that optimism. They now believe that SARS-CoV-2 will not only remain with us as an endemic virus, continuing to circulate in communities, but will likely cause a significant burden of illness and death for years to come.

As a result, the scientists said, people could expect to continue to take measures such as routine mask-wearing and avoiding crowded places during COVID-19 surges, especially for people at high risk.

Even after vaccination, “I still would want to wear a mask if there was a variant out there,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to U.S. President Joe Biden, said in an interview. “All you need is one little flick of a variant (sparking) another surge, and there goes your prediction” about when life gets back to normal.

Some scientists, including Murray, acknowledge that the outlook could improve. The new vaccines, which have been developed at record speed, still appear to prevent hospitalizations and death even when new variants are the cause of infection. Many vaccine developers are working on booster shots and new inoculations that could preserve a high level of efficacy against the variants. And, scientists say there is still much to be learned about the immune system’s ability to combat the virus.

Already, COVID-19 infection rates have declined in many countries since the start of 2021, with some dramatic reductions in severe illness and hospitalizations among the first groups of people to be vaccinated.

Murray said if the South African variant, or similar mutants, continue to spread rapidly, the number of COVID-19 cases resulting in hospitalization or death this coming winter could be four times higher than the flu. The rough estimate assumes a 65% effective vaccine given to half of a country’s population. In a worst-case scenario, that could represent as many as 200,000 U.S. deaths related to COVID-19 over the winter period, based on federal government estimates of annual flu fatalities.

His institute’s current forecast, which runs to June 1, assumes there will be an additional 62,000 U.S. deaths and 690,000 global deaths from COVID-19 by that point. The model includes assumptions about vaccination rates as well as the transmissibility of the South African and Brazilian variants.

The shift in thinking among scientists has influenced more cautious government statements about when the pandemic will end. Britain last week said it expects a slow emergence from one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, despite having one of the fastest vaccination drives.

U.S. government predictions of a return to a more normal lifestyle have been repeatedly pushed back, most recently from late summer to Christmas, and then to March 2022. Israel issues “Green Pass” immunity documents to people who have recovered from COVID-19 or been vaccinated, allowing them back into hotels or theaters. The documents are only valid for six months because it’s not clear how long immunity will last.


TL;DR: We're fucked indefinitely so we either live with it and become like those Asian countries that have always wore masks even before the pandemic and build no natural immunity or...

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Scientists had said covid needed to be taken seriously from the beginning to avoid its spread. Herd Immunity based on everyone getting sick, which Trump wanted, was always a bad idea because it meant a greater chance for mutations.

America needed to take a strong leadership role nationally and internationally in January 2020.

Science vs stupidity. Texas and Mississippi are choosing stupidity and making it worst for everyone else. Same with Brazil's idiot leader. They're choosing to make covid permanent .

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I think there needs to be some middle ground between draconian never ending lockdowns and managing the virus. So-called science keeps shifting the goal post and not all science is fact when you got pseudo-science in play. You forgot that many other states besides the 2 mentioned have no mask mandate or are re-opening. It is also left to the businesses to choose and many if not most are still sticking with the guidelines of requiring masks or no service so consumers will be forced to go elsewhere.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/09/us/biden-mask-mandate-nationwide-trnd/index.html

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There is a middle ground that some neanderthal governors refuse to follow. It depends on the circumstances. For instance, New York needed to be shutdown because it was extremely hard. People also wore masks and social distanced which allowed the cases to come down quickly.

Smaller populated states like North Dakota which were hit much later would've been able to keep some businesses partially open if they mandated masks, social distancing and limited customers. Instead, they decided to ignore everything and hold crowded public events which caused covid to skyrocket and people to die unnecessarily.

500,000+ dead. Does that make you shrug?

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https://youtube.com/watch?v=OACCABfvs0U

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You're only proving my point! Health and Security heads met with Trump repeatedly in January 2020 to warn and tell him to take action against covid. Protection against epidemics/pandemics is part of NATIONAL SECURITY. Trump was supposed to contact governors to warn them and begin plans to contain it. Instead, Trump did nothing so no one knew how serious the problem was. In February, everyone was still acting without important information or guidelines.

Finally, Covid's danger was leaked to the press by an agency head out of frustration over Trump's inaction.

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You condone this kind of behavior don't you sicko

https://.youtube.com/watch?v=P-a0ruGNCZc&feature=emb_title

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Avoiding germs lowers your immune system.

Viruses mutate regardless of what people do, it's actual real science, not MSM BroScience.

Also, Texas is trending downward on cases. https://coronavirus.1point3acres.com/en

Florida and Massachusetts have almost identical case loads per capita. FL has been open for awhile, and MA is still on partial lockdown.

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500,000+ Americans dead prove you're wrong.

Follow the science and not neanderthal politicians who stupidly open everything prematurely. Vaccinate people, then slowly open based on safety and science.

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LOL.

The opposite of Trump is always the right answer.

You are fucking insane.

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People like you are why the world is so divided. The OP posted an article about Covid, about science, and how - if at all - it wil change approaches to such situations in the future and you immediately launch into a partisan rant. You can't even talk about the issue from a strictly scientific standpoint.

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500,000 dead because idiots were screaming for "liberating states". Now, you want to talk science? Let the governors of Texas and Mississippi know that.

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Now? Fuck off. I never said anything anti-science, you clown.

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Displaced anger on your part.

It appears 4 years of Trump's many broken campaign promises left your sorry life unchanged or worst.

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Viruses change and mutate constantly...how is this 'new'?

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That's why "herd immunity" based on everyone getting sick was a dumb idea. The more people infected, the greater chance of mutations. That's why it needed to be contained in January 2020 instead of downplaying it and doing nothing.

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https://youtube.com/watch?v=OACCABfvs0U

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You're only proving my point! Health and Security heads met with Trump repeatedly in January 2020 to warn and tell him to take action against covid. Protection against epidemics/pandemics is part of NATIONAL SECURITY. Trump was supposed to contact governors to warn them and begin plans to contain it. Instead, Trump did nothing so no one knew how serious the problem was. In February, everyone was still acting without important information or guidelines.

Finally, Covid's danger was leaked to the press by an agency head out of frustration over Trump's inaction.

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Trump closed the border and YOU called him racist, Nancy the Lush told everyone to come down to Chinatown so certainly she falls in with that Neanderthal thinking right?

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Trump is a racist, but I've been calling him that for decades.

You're being racist for implying Chinatown is more dangerous than any other neighborhood. Being in crowds, especially indoors, without masks and social distancing is dangerous. I know many people who had or died from covid and not one got it in "Chinatown".

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I didn't imply anything. Nancy said it. Trump closed the border and stopped flights from China then. I'm sure you're too fried from your psych meds to remember it good thing most of us here don't have the attention span of a retarded goldfish

If its so dangerous stay the fuck home and mind your business but "my body my choice" I'm not wearing a mask, getting the vaxx or any other of this fear mongering bullshit

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On the east coast, the virus came from Europe - not China!

Your link is racist against Chinese people since it implies Chinatown is more infected than other neighborhoods. Way to go by racist fear-mongering!

You're afraid to get the vaccine.

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Prove it

LOL by your logic you're racist against Europeans you Bigot

My body my choice who are you to tell me what to do? I'm making an informed choice since I know my body better than you do. But go ahead and take mine, wear your 5 masks and live in fear like the pussy you are

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You're losing your mind over this. Chinatown never had the highest or even second highest percentage of cases of all the Manhattan neighborhoods.

Alt-right media put the blame on Chinatown when you can factually see it had nothing to do with Chinatown or Chinese New Year. Calling out bigotry is a natural response to the alt-right's error.

MSM and science put the blame on Europe when you can factually see it was Europe's strain that infected New York. You're calling bigotry when no error was made.

The underlying problem here is you aren't interested in anything factual. Your only interest is the cultural battle. You bring it with you to every conversation.

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The thing they don't mention is viruses evolve in response to counter measures we take (masks, distancing). Giving the dying anti-virals allows more mutation. They would evolve differently if we lifted all restrictions for those under 40 during the summer, which would result in very few deaths but herd immunity. We know humanity would survive whatever we do, it's not the black plague.

Those over 60 could be separated from the general population until vaccines are available.

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Viruses evolve through contagion. It mutates as it picks up new RNA from person to person. Since masks and distancing play a part in forcing the virus to die within someone's body without spreading, masks and distancing help to prevent mutation.

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