Saturday, October 24, 2020

What Doctors Really Mean When They Say COVID-19 Is Most Likely ‘Endemic’

Photo: Getty Images/blackCAT

Kells McPhillips
Well and Good

On Tuesday, the United Kingdom’s government chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, stated plainly his doubts that COVID-19 will ever disappearing entirely. “We can’t be certain, but I think it’s unlikely we will end up with a truly sterilizing vaccine, [that is] something that completely stops infection, and it’s likely this disease will circulate and be endemic, that’s my best assessment,” he said. The notion that COVID-19 maybe be an endemic disease might make you feel uneasy, but what does it really mean for the future health of human populations?

In this context, the meaning of the word “endemic” differs from epidemic and even pandemic in that it refers to the “constant presence” of a disease in certain geographic locations, explains the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s used as an adjective, while both “pandemic” and “epidemic” are nouns. An epidemic refers to a (typically) sudden rise in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected whereas a pandemic refers to an “epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people,” says the CDC.  Read more >>