The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases warned Sunday there is a good chance the novel coronavirus outbreak could become “seasonal’.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who holds 45 honorary doctoral degrees, says the virus is unlikely to be completely eradicated from the planet this year meaning the US could see the “beginning of a resurgence” during the next flu season.
“This could become a seasonal, cyclic thing, and I’ve always indicated to you that I think it very well might,” Dr. Fauci told reporters at the White House. “We’re starting to see now in the southern hemisphere and southern Africa… that we’re having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season.”
Fauci says this very prospect is the reason the US is working so hard to develop a vaccine and conducting clinical trials on therapeutic interventions to test it quickly and try to “get it ready so we’ll have a vaccine available for that next cycle.”
“Hopefully, if in fact we do see that resurgence, we will have interventions that we did not have in the beginning of the situation that we’re in right now,” he said.
History would back up his theory too. The Spanish Flu pandemic, one of the worst pandemics ever to strike the globe, was far deadlier in its second cycle. From January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people, about a quarter of the world’s population at the time, and killing anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million. The first wave had resembled typical flu epidemics; those most at risk were the sick and elderly, while younger, healthier people recovered easily. But by August, when the second wave began in France, Sierra Leone, and the United States, the virus had mutated to a much deadlier form. October 1918 was the deadliest month of the whole pandemic.
Worldwide, COVID-19 has infected in excess of 466,000 people and killed more than 21,000, with cases now climbing by the tens of thousands each day. Fauci previously said that the earliest the US could expect a coronavirus vaccine would be in 12 to 18 months. There are currently at least 40 vaccines for the novel coronavirus in development according to the World Health Organization, some of which have advanced to conducting human trials.
The US is currently the global epicenter for the pandemic, with more than 340,000 cases and at least 9,689 deaths.