UCC expert: We must learn to live with endemic Covid

“What we’re looking at present is probably a good early taste of endemicity"
UCC expert: We must learn to live with endemic Covid

Speaking to The Echo, AXA Research Chair of Applied Pathogen Ecology at University College Cork (UCC) Gerry Killeen said the situation now is that with existing vaccine technology we are “kind of stuck with this and there’s no way to reverse back out at this point”.

CORK-based ecologist and epidemiologist Gerry Killeen has said we have to learn to live with the Covid-19 virus with “no way to reverse back out”.

Speaking to The Echo, AXA Research Chair of Applied Pathogen Ecology at University College Cork (UCC) Gerry Killeen said the situation now is that with existing vaccine technology we are “kind of stuck with this and there’s no way to reverse back out at this point”.

“I think the debate about whether we get on with our lives is kind of a moot point because it became pretty obvious within a couple of months of Omicron hitting us that it’s pretty much uncontainable.

“A couple of years ago I did calculations about at what point does this thing evolve beyond where we can contain it and Delta sort of nudged the edges of it but vaccines still worked against infection so we still had options back then but Omicron sort of blew those options out of the water.

“What we’re looking at present is probably a good early taste of endemicity. People have used this term endemic as though it’s always happily ever after but it’s not the case.

“There are lots of really nasty things a lot of people have to live with in different parts of the planet that are endemic, and it certainly is not normal business as usual.

“So, while it’s difficult to see how this will evolve over the medium to long term, it kind of looks very much like how we imagined it.”

Mr Killeen predicted over a year ago that every six months there would be another surge as immunity wanes and new variants emerge.

He said that while he highly doubts “a catastrophic scenario where we all end up with long Covid”, he does not see things going back to life as we knew it.

He added that the health service, insurance, and pensions, will all have to be replanned based on what is now “a different scenario”.

“We’re still in the early stages of the evolution of this thing so there is always the chance that something that is not just different but actually nastier comes through, but I wouldn’t be expecting it tomorrow but it’s something that might hit us at random sometime in the next, five, 10, or 20 years,” he said.

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