Contagious all year round, especially COVID-19

Contagious all year round, especially COVID-19

This week marked four years since the SARS-CoV-2 virus forced the planet into isolation to slow its spread. Four years later, it has become another respiratory virus under epidemiological surveillance, a method that actually began last winter and has been strengthened this year. A year ago, specific data on the impact was still being provided and cases had been added since the pandemic was declared. Not now, because it may indicate an unrealistic situation, because testing is not necessary, as Mireya Garcia, a doctor in the ministry’s epidemiological surveillance area, points out. The virus is controlled in the same way as influenza or other viruses; Data collected by doctors who visit patients and determine the extent of their infection is used, as well as data from the hospital that analyzes samples to determine the impact. Although four years have passed, “when it comes to knowing what the behavior of the virus is, time is still short. But what we are seeing is that it does not appear to be completely seasonal, as it could be influenza, which always enters more into the cold season. We are seeing SARS-CoV-2, which is present all year round.”

Given this behaviour, epidemiological surveillance is annual, albeit more intense from October to spring, which is the traditional way winter viruses are dealt with. One of the characteristics that has been discovered about Covid is that “sometimes it appears more and sometimes less, and it is true that it is less when others appear more. As for influenza or respiratory syncytial virus, it seems that we have returned to the pre-pandemic era. When it is influenza season, we see Influenza, especially influenza A virus, is the most prevalent virus, and when there is influenza, there is less SARS-CoV-2,” Garcia points out. It is not known whether this will be its future behavior or if “when it is replaced it will also be seasonal.”

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At the height of the pandemic, one concern was the emergence of new variants that could be more dangerous. Now, “all the surveillance that's being done on the variants, they're all coming from the same parent, which is Omicron,” and although it may happen that a more virulent strain emerges, with the potential to cause more seriousness, “with everything we're seeing, there's less and less chance of it happening.” “That,” the doctor points out. However, he insists that this is a possibility, which is why the condition is being followed closely “to see how it behaves”. But the danger it could bring at the moment is the same as that which could result from influenza in “people of advanced age or who have underlying diseases: they are people with disabilities, an infection of this type can put them at risk” and it must be recognized.

After mass vaccination campaigns to stop the virus, prevention is now also limited to vulnerable groups, with a campaign parallel to the influenza campaign, because the potential user is the same – the elderly, people with chronic diseases, and health workers. And so it happened this winter, with mixed results. “With influenza, we had higher coverage, but it's also true that people actually have it more,” Garcia points out. The Covid situation is that annual vaccination is now being promoted and “people have not integrated it yet, we have just vaccinated the entire population, and that was somewhat expected.” The Ministry will continue to work to raise awareness, also with the use of the mask, which is recommended when there is greater viral spread and especially in environments where there are more vulnerable people.

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