Covid outbreak fears as virologist issues ‘pandemics happen frequently’

Coronavirus: WHO share update on EG.5 COVID-19 variant

As mask mandates are reintroduced at Lionsgate headquarters in Santa Monica, California, here in the UK we, too, could benefit from implementing Covid measures.

Dr Gould said changed behaviour from Covid, such as mask-wearing, was good at limiting the chances of another Covid pandemic.

Yet, “pandemics happen relatively frequently”, Dr Gould warned, citing examples of influenza, HIV, and bird flu.

The Deputy Head of School of Life Sciences at Coventry University, explained a influenza pandemic happens “about once a generation”, with the last one (swine flu) back in 2009.

Thus, there is a potential for another influenza soon, but it’s “just as likely not to happen for 30 years”, he said.

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To help prevent another Covid pandemic, in particular, Dr Gould stressed vaccines are key.

Dr Gould said: “Vaccines are key at preventing and limiting infections.”

Vaccinations still need to be routinely updated for when new Covid variants arrive, as we have seen with Covid strains Eris and Pirola.

“The virus will mutate,” Dr Gould assured. “And there is always a lag to make vaccines, so it can never be a perfect match for Covid circulating.”

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Dr Gould added: “But certainly get them done [to be vaccinated] is the message.”

Covid is currently classified as an endemic, the expert pointed out, but “we [now] have a level of immunity as a population”.

We, as a population, didn’t have this level of protection back in 2020, which is how a pandemic occurred.

“But, like influenza, we could see a massive change or a new variant of SARS, like in 2019 and previously 2002 (SARS cov 1),” Dr Gould added.

A professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences said very real risks remain associated with Covid.

Professor Jonathan Reiner said: “If you’re a caregiver for somebody who is at increased risk of complication following infection, then I think you should consider putting a mask on in public places.”

Dr Reiner added: “And since the masks that are most effective are N95 that are now readily available, that’s the kind of mask you should wear.”

Covid measures, as listed by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include:

  • Staying up to date with vaccinations
  • Improving ventilation
  • Wearing masks
  • Handwashing
  • Staying home if unwell.

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