Chinese scientists say the novel coronavirus will not be eradicated, adding to a growing consensus around the world that the pathogen will likely return in waves like the flu.
It’s unlikely the new virus will disappear the way its close cousin SARS did 17 years ago, as it infects some people without causing obvious symptoms like fever. This group of so-called asymptomatic carriers makes it hard to fully contain transmission as they can spread the virus undetected, a group of Chinese viral and medical researchers told reporters in Beijing at a briefing Monday.
With SARS, those infected became seriously ill. Once they were quarantined from others, the virus stopped spreading. In contrast, China is still finding dozens of asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus every day despite bringing its epidemic under control.
A consensus is forming among top researchers and governments worldwide that the virus is unlikely to be eliminated, despite costly lockdowns that have brought much of the global economy to a halt. Some public health experts are calling for the virus to be allowed to spread in a controlled way through younger populations like India’s, while countries like Sweden have opted out of strict lockdowns.