After five waves of Covid-19, it’s hard to believe that the virus will evaporate overnight. The phrase “living with the virus” has made sense and should keep it. The challenge remains, however, to be able to make it less aggressive, as the Omicron variant seems to suggest, but above all to limit it in time, like seasonal viruses.
The evolution of the coronavirus to a seasonal illness, such as the flu or even gastro, is a plausible possibility, according to scientists and politicians. In December, during his long prime-time interview on TF1, Emmanuel Macron said nothing else. “Every year the flu comes back with a slightly different form. You need to get vaccinated to be fit and have the right protection against the current year’s form of flu. It is likely that we are going towards that [pour le Covid-19]», Explained the President of the Republic.
A few weeks later, the observation made by specialists in the health field does not prove him wrong. “We will arrive at a seasonal virus like the flu where we will vaccinate vulnerable populations,” notably assured this Wednesday morning Yazdan Yazdanpanah, infectious disease specialist and member of the scientific council, on France 2.
Successive vaccine injections and a possible Covid-19 infection in any case promote a form of immunity in the people concerned, scientists agree. This then makes it possible to avoid the serious forms, detected mainly in unvaccinated or vulnerable people. “When a new variant arrives on the ground of a population largely vaccinated or infected, it will come up against a residual cellular immunity, which lasts quite a long time”, thus estimates Bruno Canard. in the columns of World.
A virus that develops less severe forms, enhanced immunization, everything suggests that the virus could turn into a flu-like illness, restricted to a few months of the year. “With SARS-CoV-2, we are still in a transition regime before reaching this dynamic of seasonal epidemics, slower and more predictable”, notes Mircea Sofonea, epidemiologist and professor at the University of Montpellier.
This possibility remains, however, conditioned by the fate of the virus. If the Omicron variant is reputed to be more contagious but at the origin of less serious forms, there is nothing to say that it will be the same for another variant in the coming months. All the more so if this variant comes from the original strain of the coronavirus, admittedly less contagious but more likely to develop serious forms. “No one had expected Omicron to start with a bang. I do not know at all what there will be next March ”, tempered Antoine Flahault on the set of BFMTV last week.
The question is therefore not so much whether the virus will become seasonal, but rather when it will actually be. “I think that this virus will settle among us in a perennial way on a seasonal basis, in any case nothing contradicts this idea (…). The big unknown is how long it will take for this virus to adopt a seasonal rhythm. What is certain is that vaccination shortens this period ”, explains Professor Astrid Vabret, head of department of the virology laboratory at the CHU de Caen, in Le Figaro.
The uncertainty about a possible mutation of the virus therefore remains. The only certainty is that the Covid-19 will still be present in the months to come.