Scientists at the World Health Organization are saying that the latest coronavirus is likely to become endemic, or permanently circulating in the population, and that a deadlier pandemic lurks on the horizon.
Although public health experts have previously talked about the prospect that the new coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 would not disappear but rather remain as a reoccurring albeit reduced health threat, the year-end remarks on Monday by WHO officials amounted to what one scientist called a “wake-up call” to governments around the world.
“It appears the destiny of SARS-CoV-2 is to become endemic, as have four other human coronaviruses,” said Dr. David Heymann, the chair of the WHO’s strategic and technical advisory group for infectious hazards.
The four other human coronaviruses that have become endemic are responsible for about a quarter of all colds. The most recent endemic coronaviruses, HKU1 and NL63, were discovered…