Coronavirus could become new winter flu and return every year, scientists warn – The Sun

CORONAVIRUS could become like the winter flu and return every year, scientists have warned.

The deadly bug has already killed at least 3,000 people and infected more than 90,000 worldwide.

Read our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates

Just like the common cold, chest infections or the flu, Covid-19 is a viral infection.

These viral illnesses go around every winter and because they change so often, people often don't develop an immunity to them.

The new coronavirus has killed around three per cent of those who have been infected by it.

However, experts fear it could become a seasonal illness – meaning it will taper off over spring and return in the winter.

Whether Covid-19 will fit into that pattern or not, we will just have to wait and see but my guess is it will

Professor John Oxford, from Queen Mary University in London, told The Telegraph: "If you look at other members of the coronavirus family, that are respiratory viruses and we've known about them for the last 50 years or more, they're seasonal.

"They're just like the common cold, there's probably a few thousand people infected with them at the moment in England.

"Whether Covid-19 will fit into that pattern or not, we will just have to wait and see but my guess is it will."

He added that it had "enough characteristics" to "settle down and become seasonal".

Warmer weather

Dr Oxford said that if is this case we could begin to see figures dropping off as it gets warmer.

But other experts have said that we "can't rule out a second wave".

Dr Michael Skinner, Reader in Virology, Imperial College London, said: “It could well slow down over the summer but I think most people anticipate that it's likely that it will come back as a second wave."

Covid-19 is thought to be able to spread quicker in winter as viruses usually have an easier time surviving and reproducing in colder temperatures.

Many respiratory viruses hang out in the nasal passages and airways of the lung, and there’s increasing evidence that when we inhale cooler air, the body’s natural antiviral defences suffer.

Experts have also pointed to other strains of coronavirus before the outbreak of Covid-19 – including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle-Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012.

While these viruses aren't the same as Covid-19, they do share a string of similarities – with the new virus a 79 per cent match to SARS and a 50 per cent match to MERS.

Dr Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Arizona, told HuffPost that the bug has been "behaving a lot like the common cold coronaviruses."

So, there is a chance that Covid-19 could calm down come late spring when the weather improves.

'No guarantee'

But some say there is no guarantee it will be less prevalent when the cold weather dies down.

Dr Ellen Foxman, a Yale Medicine clinical pathologist and researcher in the school’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Clinical Virology Laboratory, added: "Viruses can be unpredictable, so it is very important to be cautiously optimistic about this."

Viral illnesses cannot be cured and often by the time scientists have come up with a flu vaccine, the strain has already mutated.

This was the case during an outbreak of Aussie flu in 2017, which wreaked havoc across Britain.


Scientists are working to develop a new vaccine for the coronavirus – but health officials warn that it could be months away.

It comes as Donald Trump was publicly slapped down by his own top expert after insisting a vaccine could be ready in a couple of months.

The president’s most senior expert, Dr Tony Fauci said that a usable vaccine won’t be ready for the public until after “at least a year”.

Meanwhile, the government today warned that the coronavirus outbreak could come in "multiple waves".

Boris Johnson published the Coronavirus Action Plan, which along with a containment strategy, lays out what the next stages of the virus's spread could involve.

“It is possible that an outbreak or pandemic of COVID-19 could occur in multiple waves,” it says.



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“It is not known yet if the disease will have a seasonal pattern, like flu.

“Therefore, depending upon what the emerging evidence starts to tell us, it may be necessary to ensure readiness for a future wave of activity.

“The UK Government will keep emerging research needs under close review and progress research activities set out above.”

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