COVID likely to follow seasonal pattern, study suggests

A healthcare worker designated for COVID testing outside hospital. [FPK File Photo/Zainab]

The COVID is anticipated to adopt a seasonal pattern similar to influenza, with heightened activity during colder months in northern regions and reduced activity in the summer, as indicated by a research study.

As Covid-19 transitions into an endemic phase, recurring waves of infection prompt scientists to explore the potential predictability of these surges, as reported by IANS.

Jeffrey Townsend, a Professor of Biostatistics and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University in the US, emphasised the significance of anticipating future surges for informed public health policies.

The study, published in the journal mBio, offers insights that can assist clinics and hospitals in preparing for increased numbers of Covid-19 patients.

This foresight is crucial, particularly considering the concurrent activity of other respiratory viruses like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which could further strain healthcare systems.

Using historical infection data from coronaviruses with known seasonal patterns, the researchers projected the future seasonality of SARS-CoV-2.

Their analysis of monthly infection data from common-cold coronaviruses in Europe, East Asia, and North America, spanning the years 1985 to 2020, led to the estimation that SARS-CoV-2 is likely to surge during colder months in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

However, the specific timing of these surges is expected to vary by location. A crucial point to note is that these results are applicable only when Covid-19 becomes endemic, a phase that, while not yet reached, is anticipated by most experts.

Jeffrey Townsend explained that endemicity involves the virus persisting steadily in the population, with individuals having been exposed to it multiple times, and the virus spreading consistently each year.

The timeline for reaching this endemic state remains uncertain, with Townsend suggesting that it could be approaching or potentially extending another 10 years.

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