New Coronavirus Strain Possible Next Decade: Russian Expert

Another potentially deadly strain of coronavirus is likely to appear within the next ten years or so, Russia’s former chief sanitary doctor, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Gennady Onishchenko told TASS on Wednesday.

“It appears that new strains of coronavirus do not emerge every year,” said Onishchenko, who is now the first deputy chairman of the State Duma (lower house) Commission for Education and Science. “Previous outbreaks of coronavirus infections took place in 2002 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS) and 2012 (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS).”

He said that outbreaks of coronavirus infections in 2002, 2012, and 2020 reveal “an approximate cycle of about 8-10 years.”

“Maybe, it [a new coronavirus strain] may emerge even earlier,” he added.

Onishchenko expressed hope that as a result of the current pandemic, humanity will receive sufficient herd immunity to COVID-19.

“The virus will keep circulating, but it won’t be as aggressive as it is now, due to acquired immunity,” he added.

In his words, during every winter season, up to 200 various viruses circulate in the population, and the novel coronavirus might eventually become one of them.

Downward trend

Onishchenko also criticized the use of the term ‘plateau’ with regard to the current downward trend in the number of cases in Russia.

“We already saw the rise in cases, the peak of the infection, and the emerging downward trend. Not a ‘plateau,’ as some people say <…> it’s an emerging downward trend in the intensity of spreading of the novel coronavirus,” he said.

In his opinion, Russians should not treat positive news as a pretext to relax.

Coronavirus pandemic

In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus – named COVID-19 by the WHO – have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 4,905,800 people have been infected worldwide and more than 320,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 1,916,300 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.

To date, a total of 299,941 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 76,130 patients having recovered from the virus. Russia’s latest data indicates 2,837 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.

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