Stephane Bancel, who is CEO of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Moderna, made a grim-sounding prediction on Wednesday, January 13, that the coronavirus is "not going away," and that we will have to live with it "we think, forever."
However, his words, which were delivered during a panel discussion at a health conference, aren't really quite as dire as they seem. Bancel's forecast is in agreement with expert opinion that the virus will become endemic, meaning it will be present at all times, but probably at lower levels and risk than it is now.
As stated by the U.K.’s chief scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance, back in October, only one human disease has ever been completely eradicated due to a highly effective vaccine: smallpox.
He didn't think the same thing would happen with COVID-19; rather, he opined that the virus would circulate and take on an endemic profile that would resemble more like an ordinary seasonal flu.
“Clearly as management becomes better, as you get vaccination which would decrease the chance of infection and the severity of disease... this then starts to look more like an annual flu than anything else, and that may be the direction we end up going,” he explained.
At any rate, experts will need to closely monitor variant strains of the virus as they potentially develop. So far, the variant B.1.1.7 was discovered in the U.K.; it's able to to infect people more quickly, and is believed to have led to the infection spike overseas.
Cases of this strain have been detected in several states across America, but it's currently unclear if there is a novel USA version.
At the start of 2021, the White House coronavirus task force made note of the rising spread following the holiday season, and urged a plan of action to get more Americans vaccinated as fast as possible, whatever resources it takes to do so.
Moderna's vaccine is cleared by the Food and Drug Administration be given to Americans over the age of 18. Additional studies still need to be conducted before it is declared safe for children.