Living for a year and a half with the social distancel, masks, alcohol gel and home office, the question that remains is: when will the Covid-19 pandemic finally end?

Although there is no way to predict the future, studies are trying to build realistic expectations about the progression of the pandemic, as well as trying to understand how and when it might become extinct. According to information from The Conversation, recent studies say that unfortunately, Covid is here to stay, in other words, not even a measure will stop the virus from spreading and infecting people. In addition, the so-called collective immunity - of herd - would also, in theory, be unattainable, since the level of immunity, either by vaccine or in a natural way, decreases with time.

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In addition, research on the behavior of other human coronaviruses has found that, on average, infections are repeated every three to six years, that is, if SARS-CoV-2 – the current virus – behaves in the same way in the UK , for example, 11 to 22 million people could be infected with it each year.

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When will the Covid-19 pandemic end? Image: 2K Studio (iStock)

So the pandemic will never end?

However, vaccine immunization and immune system adaptation may still hold the key to medium to long-term change.

A curious hypothesis raised through a study by Anthony King, for example, is that this may not be the first time that the coronavirus has spread globally. Some evidence suggests that the Russian flu, which broke out in 1889, was not really a flu, but rather a type of the virus, OC4. In other words, that would mean that we already had another pandemic caused by the virus, and that eventually it ended.

Other scientific points

Emerging studies – still awaiting review – also point out that, while immunity seems to decrease – including after vaccines – the body's natural protection (by immunizing or not), called “adaptive immunity” is getting stronger in severe cases and becoming longer lasting.

Based, then, on behavioral data from previous coronaviruses and a type of “evolution” of the immune system, Covid-19 could possibly become totally asymptomatic or, at worst, a mild cold.

Differences between countries

The form or date when the pandemic will end will also vary from country to country, as in fact, we are already seeing – some returning to normality and others experiencing a new wave of cases due to variants. It all depends, therefore, on how many people have been immunized and how much “natural immunity” has accumulated in each place.

Countries with high vaccination coverage and a high number of previous cases are likely to achieve immunity to the virus. In England, for example, it is estimated that at the beginning of September more than 94% of the adult population already had antibodies against Covid-19.

Roughly speaking, it will all be a matter of time, as as people's immunity increases through natural reinfections or booster immunizations, we can expect an increasing proportion of new infections to start to be asymptomatic or to become a mild disease. 

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What about countries with few cases and high vaccination coverage?

Also according to the tabloid, in countries without many previous infections, even with high vaccination coverage, many people will remain susceptible. Even if the number of unvaccinated people in this location is minimal, at some point they may contract the virus, running the risk of developing the severe form of the disease and death, and reinfecting, for example, people who have already been vaccinated.

However, the hope is that the path of Covid-19 will be the same as the Russian flu, so it will soon become less relevant, which is already expected for next year.

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