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2 Sep, 2021 14:18

Is Covid-19 here to stay? Top Russian immunologist says pandemic may not finally come to an end for AT LEAST another three years

Is Covid-19 here to stay? Top Russian immunologist says pandemic may not finally come to an end for AT LEAST another three years

The coronavirus pandemic is unlikely to loosen its grip on the world anytime soon, a leading Russian immunology expert has said, warning countries now need to be prepared to combat and eliminate new vaccine-resistant mutations.

Speaking to the URA news agency on Wednesday, top doctor Nikolay Kryuchkov set out a speculative timetable for when the virus might be fully under control. “Maybe by the end of 2023, in 2024, the situation around the world will stabilize,” he said.

“The main thing is that during this period, mortality and the possibility of new mutations need to be reduced. This will allow us to put the situation into a manageable state and stop the pandemic,” he went on.

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Moscow has been working to ramp up its national immunization program in recent months to combat the spread of the virus. The country’s fifth Covid-19 vaccine, EpiVacCorona-N, was registered in late August, one year on from when it unveiled the world's first registered formula, Sputnik-V. Now, Russia reports almost half a million vaccine doses being administered daily.

However, fears of a resurgent outbreak in the capital this fall are growing. The head of one of the capital's main hospitals, Denis Protsenko, has warned that doctors are preparing for the worst. The combination of the upcoming flu season and people coming back from vacation may provide the optimum conditions for a new wave.

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However, Alexander Chepurnov, a virology professor and head of the Center for Fundamental Translational Medicine, suggested that the world should be cautiously optimistic about the end of Covid-19. “There is hope. If 60% of the population is vaccinated, plus those who have been ill, we will be able to maintain collective immunity, which will make the situation more or less controlled,” he said. “But if there are mutations that evade vaccines and have an even greater ability to spread, then the process will become permanent, and this is very alarming.”

As of Thursday, 218 million coronavirus infections have been recorded worldwide, and at least 4.7 million people are thought to have died.

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