Is COVID-19 here to stay? Utah doctors weigh in

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – COVID-19 continues to infect millions of people worldwide, and countries like Singapore and the United Kingdom are beginning to accept it’s not going away – and are learning how to live with the virus, each in their own way.

While cases will eventually slow back down, Utah doctors believe the virus will continue to spread; but over time they said it may become less dangerous to people’s health.

“I think the idea that it’s going to be completely wiped out and we’ll never see it again is something that most people feel is quite unlikely,” said Dr. Sankar Swaminathan, MD, the chief of infectious diseases division at the University of Utah.

“I do feel some optimism that the severity of cases is going to improve with time,” said Dr. Mark Oliver, an infectious diseases specialist at St. Mark’s Hospital of MountainStar Healthcare. “We have drugs that can improve your chances of surviving if you are sick enough to be hospitalized. We have some good treatments out there. In addition, we have the vaccines that are very effective.”

Doctors said transmission is likely to dramatically slow once there’s a greater level of immunity, which comes from vaccination or infection.

“Like what we do with other coronaviruses or rhinovirus or influenza; we’ve all either been vaccinated or infected,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases physician at Intermountain Healthcare.

And from that point, doctors said COVID-19 could become a seasonal illness.

“Future vaccinations might involve ones that are direct against what’s circulating at that time,” Dr. Swaminathan said.

“We’re going to have to learn how to vaccinate appropriately, likely on a seasonal basis, matching the most common viral strains,” said Dr. Stenehjem.

But right now, they said people need to continue to do their part in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“Wishing you could get back to normal isn’t going to do it. We have to take action and we have to take action that even though it may be inconvenient, it is what will get us back to normal,” Dr. Swaminathan said.

While the virus’s transmission may decrease in the months and years ahead, all doctors told ABC4 News people still need to practice good public health measures and get vaccinated.

“We have to come together as a community to fight this thing,” Dr. Oliver said.

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