Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) Friday said COVID-19 could stay with us forever.
"COVID-19 pandemic would end at some point, but the virus will continue to circulate in the human population," DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan said. "COVID-19 will become yet another infection joining many other diseases that humanity has learned to live with. We will probably be living with this virus for the rest of our lives but the impact of the virus in terms of deaths, illness and the need for social isolation will lessen. Cases will wax and wane over time. Outbreaks will pop up here and there. One of the reasons to believe that COVID-19 will be around forever is that the virus is constantly changing and adapting to challenges."
He said that the existence of animal reservoirs that could keep re-infecting humans was another reason why the virus was not going to go away.
"Over time we may end up with a situation similar to the flu or common cold," Dr Hassan said. "Like flu, COVID-19 could eventually become a seasonal illness. The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic could offer a clue about the course of COVID-19. The H1N1 pandemic was over in about 16 months, but the virus did not disappear. Instead it has turned into a seasonal flu strain that circulates all years, and peaks during winter. COVID-19 could ultimately become another seasonal respiratory virus, like the four other coronaviruses that cause a sizeable proportion of common colds."
He said COVID-19 was still in a pandemic phase as infections continue to increase across the world and many people were still susceptible.
"Vaccination is critical to end the pandemic phase of the virus," Dr Hassan said. "When enough people will get vaccination against the virus, and that too quickly, we may see an end to the pandemic soon. Even with vaccination, virus is going to stay around and cause smaller outbreaks, much like seasonal flu.
And, we may need booster shots of COVID-19 vaccine on a regular basis to maintain immunisation over time."