COVID-19 Will Stay Like Other Flu Viruses, Says UK COVID Vaccine Creator
A month after the Chief Scientist of the World Health Organisation warned that COVID-19 may be entering some kind of stage of 'endemicity', the creator of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has reiterated that the deadly virus would have no space in the coming days to evade the immunity system.
The creator of the most widely distributed jab in the world said that the virus will become weaker with time and this would ultimately stop the deadly virus from spreading. "The coronavirus cannot completely mutate because its spike protein has to interact with the ACE2 receptor on the surface of the human cell, in order to get inside it," said Dame Sarah Gilbert, the lead scientist from Oxford University during a webinar titled: 'Vaccines, variants, and infection: The position this winter' for the Royal Society of Medicine on Wednesday.
"If it changes its spike protein so much that it can't interact with that receptor, then it's not going to be able to get inside the cell. So, there aren't many places for the virus to go to have something that will evade immunity but still remain infectious," she explained.
According to the UK vaccine creator, the COVID-19 virus would end like other flu viruses after an "unpredictable time" and asserted that would be the best time to counter-attack on the deadly virus with the next generation of COVID vaccine. "You see small changes accumulating over a period of time, and then we have the opportunity to react to that," the scientist said while comparing the SARS-CoV-2 with other flu viruses. While explaining further about the spreading tendency of the virus, the expert noted that the SARS-CoV-2 would become less virulent over time. However, she clarified that there is no set timeframe for how long the virus would take to become less virulent.
SARS-CoV-2 will become normal flu with time
"We normally see that viruses become less virulent as they circulate more easily and there is no reason to think we will have a more virulent version of SARS-CoV-2," she noted. Gilbert predicted that the coronavirus would behave like other flu viruses in which a person would experience the common cold. "We tend to see a slow genetic drift of the virus and there will be gradual immunity developing in the population as there is to all the other seasonal coronaviruses. We already live with four different human coronaviruses that we don't really ever think about very much and eventually SARS-CoV-2 will become one of them. The question is how long it's going to take to get there and what measures we're going to have to take to manage it in the meantime," she said.
(With inputs from PTI)