Immunological characteristics govern the transition of COVID-19 to endemicity

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Science  12 Jan 2021:
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe6522


We are currently faced with the question of how the CoV-2 severity may change in the years ahead. Our analysis of immunological and epidemiological data on endemic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) shows that infection-blocking immunity wanes rapidly, but disease-reducing immunity is long-lived. Our model, incorporating these components of immunity, recapitulates both the current severity of CoV-2 and the benign nature of HCoVs, suggesting that once the endemic phase is reached and primary exposure is in childhood, CoV-2 may be no more virulent than the common cold. We predict a different outcome for an emergent coronavirus that causes severe disease in children. These results reinforce the importance of behavioral containment during pandemic vaccine rollout, while prompting us to evaluate scenarios for continuing vaccination in the endemic phase.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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