The coronavirus pandemic could come to an end with three possible case scenarios: if people become immune to the virus, if a vaccine is developed, or if the virus mutates losing its potency with time, an expert said.
Mehmet Ceyhan, a professor at Ankara-based Hacettepe University, said the first rule for protection against the virus is maintaining good hygiene, particularly frequent hand washing.
He said the virus may spread among humans during its incubation period which ranges from two to 14 days.
“This virus spreads through droplets, just like flu, meningitis, pneumonia and measles. In SARS and MERS, the illness could also infect after the symptoms start but in COVID-19, the infection happens in the incubation period. For this reason, it is of vital importance to take precautions, to observe social isolation and to be careful about hygiene.”
The novel coronavirus is more contagious than SARS and MERS, he added, with ratio of 3 against 1.8 and 2, respectively.
The professor said there is no known vaccine for coronavirus yet and research is going on.
“We do not know if the vaccine will be developed, and if it is, how successful will the results be. There is no guarantee.”
Speaking about the ongoing vaccine research in the U.S., he said: “The vaccine the U.S. is working on is different.
“They are revisiting the vaccine previously developed for SARS but was not used, to see if it will be efficient on COVID-19. Genetically, COVID-19 is 85% similar to SARS virus.”
He concluded that there are three possible case scenarios for the pandemic to end.
“Many people will become immune stopping the virus from spreading, or the vaccine will be found and people will be made immune in this way. The third possibility is that the virus will mutate and will lose its ability to infect humans. The pandemic can only end with one of these three scenarios. In the case of SARS, it is estimated that the virus mutated and ended in that way.”
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has claimed more than 118 000 lives globally, with more than 1 900 000 confirmed cases worldwide, according to tally by US-based Johns Hopkins University.