DO We Know How the COVID-19 Adventure Will End?

We all know how the COVID-19 virus began:Bats near Wuhan, China, that held a mix of coronavirus strains, and sometime last fall one of these strains left its host (s)  and ended up entering a person. Then it was suddenly on the loose. However, at this very minute no one exactly knows how the pandemic will end. Epidemiologist  concede that the virus is a new situation.

If we stop long enough and examine past pandemics we will discover that these same past situations give hints of the future. While there are really no historical cases to follow, humanity has experienced several large epidemics over the last 100 or so years that finally ended. The ways that caused them to  end offer guidance to a world seeking for ways to restore health and some degree of normalcy. It appears that what happens next depends greatly upon both the evolution of the virus and of the human response to it, both socially and biologically.

While studying biology in undergraduate school, I learned that viruses are continually mutating. Those that trigger pandemics have enough novelty that the human immune system does not instantly recognize them as dangerous. These invaders force the body to create a new defense, involving new antibodies and other immune system components that can react to and attack the virus. Here is the scenario:  Large numbers of people get sick in the short term, and social factors such as crowding and  the absence of medicine can drive the numbers even higher. Eventually, in most cases, antibodies developed by the immune system to ward off the virus linger in enough of the affected population to confer longer-term immunity and somewhat limit per-to-person viral transmission. But that could take several years , and before it occurs, havoc will continue.

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