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What does the new COVID-19 evidence tell us about the future?

  • November 24, 2020 09:03 PM AEDT
  • Edita Ivancevic
    Journalist Edita Ivancevic
    212 Posts

    Edita is a young journalist who graduated in 2019 from the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, Croatia, specialising in Television and Public Relations. Since the teenage years, Edita gained knowledge of news reporting and analysing complex curre...

What does the new COVID-19 evidence tell us about the future?

Summary

  • Many scientists and health experts had made their predictions about COVID-19 at the beginning of this year. However, they could not correctly forecast the seasonal nature of the novel virus. As per research, it could be seasonal and might get severe in winters.
  • The pandemic has shaken the world throughout 2020 across seasons. This could be the reason why scientists didn’t study seasonality earlier.
  • Given the recent data, COVID-19 will continue to replicate on the northern hemisphere as it is approaching winter. The estimated number of cases is still unknown, but it is believed that the biggest death toll will be around January.
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Winter is coming to the northern hemisphere. Usually, individuals get quite excited around the holidays. However, this year Christmas and New Year might not bring the same amount of joy as they used to.

Even after the coronavirus’s first birthday in November, it is still as prolific as it was when it was born.

Throughout one of the most significant periods for the humankind, scientists learnt a lot about the virus. Also, they and were proven wrong about a lot of things that they presumed to be true in the very beginning.

Significantly, the most recent examination found that COVID-19 is a seasonal disease. This was proven by data from the US and European countries that are now heading towards the coldest season.

How do scientists know that COVID-19 is seasonal?

At first, not many experts thought that the coronavirus was a seasonal disease. They instead believed that it occurs in similar numbers no matter the season.

In the beginning, the pandemic looked the same on both hemispheres that had summer and winter going on at the same time. For that reason, many epidemiologists thought COVID-19 was not seasonal, as all data was in favour of that hypothesis.

However, scientists now understand that the coronavirus peaks in winter. Recent research from Seattle warns that this winter, the US will witness the biggest death toll for the following year. The peak is expected to happen around Mr Biden’s Inauguration Day (20 Jan) and will be active until February.

Why did experts initially believe that COVID-19 was not cyclical?

As mentioned above, all data indicated that the novel virus prevailed through all annual seasons. Now, scientists know that the coronavirus acts similarly to the influenza virus when it comes to its recurrence – they wear off in summer while the worst effects can be felt in winter.

Health professionals failed to see the seasonal feature because the pandemic had been hitting the word hard, earlier this year. Flattening the curve was the primary goal to achieve, while some experts were quietly doing more thorough investigations about the long-term effects and behaviour of the new virus.

The whole thing about the coronavirus started as the pandemic, but now has grown into endemic proportions, meaning the effect of the virus is long-lasting.

The coronavirus outbreak soon became a pandemic as it impacted the entire world. However, the virus has likely become endemic, indicating that its effect will be long-lasting.

The cyclical hypothesis has not been fully investigated yet, but the newest information does hint at the fact that it is likely to be true.

What precautions to take now, in the wake of new evidence?

Even with the new evidence that illustrated the curve to rise in colder seasons drastically, humans will need to maintain COVID-19 preventative measures to be entirely safe. Social distancing, adequate ventilation, and recommended face masks have confirmed to do wonders if appropriately accomplished.

What are some other findings?

Another reason why COVID-19 seems to spread more during winter is the colder temperature in households.

For obvious reasons, people do not ventilate their homes a lot during winter, but rather maintain it at around 20 degrees Celsius. However, most viruses prefer such environments because they can easily replicate in cold, dry spaces. As households and closed spaces are like a gold mine for the coronavirus and similar diseases, winter becomes an ideal environment for fast and efficient virus reproduction.

On the contrary, COVID-19 was seen to be declining in surroundings where the temperature was moderate to high (around 40 degrees Celsius); that explains why there are less COVID-19 strains during summer.

However, some scientists are warning that COVID-19 tests are still unreliable. Hence, it is early to determine if the weather truly has a significant effect on the COVID-19 spread.

How do we expect the virus to behave in future?

Sometimes, it is a challenge to investigate new viruses because they exhibit different side effects for different people, or sometimes no symptoms at all. The coronavirus is no different. While most people do not even know they have it, some have mild symptoms, and others experience severe or fatal consequences. Hence, this viewpoint is still at the early stages and has no consistent facts.

What remains robust, however, is the fact that social distancing measures help with the prevention, especially in societies where the borders have been closed for a long time. A great example is Australia, which is entering summer in just a few days with a record-low number of cases.

The other hemisphere is making restrictions stricter by the day, while many Western nations have decided to go into the second lockdown. There is still no rock-solid explanation of why COVID-19 spreads more extensively in colder climates, but especially in countries that do not get a lot of UV rays.

No matter what the actual truth and science is behind the new disease, immense numbers of cases are inevitable throughout Europe, the US, and the rest of the northern part of the planet.

The only hope now lies with companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Oxford, and others that are in the vaccine race. With more than five promising vaccines currently showing more than 90 per cent efficacy, jab developers are hoping the world could go back to normal next winter (in Australia’s case, next summer). However, vaccine candidates are still in their early phases so the current confidence should be accompanied with precautions, as we are likely stuck with COVID-19 for a bit more time.

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