In 2022 the Covid of the Vaccinated will monopolize our attention. Covid is the disease that affects humans when the body is invaded by SARS-CoV-2. It arrives through our airways, penetrates and reproduces in the cells of our mouth, throat and nose. It then attacks the lungs. The result is Covid.
But the reality is that today there are two Covids. One is when the coronavirus encounters a totally unprepared human being, an organism that has never had contact with SARS-CoV-2. It’s Covid that plagued humanity in 2020 and 2021. This Covid doesn’t feature
symptoms in almost half of infected people and has mild symptoms in most people. Severe symptoms can lead to hospitalization and intubation of 10 to 15% of those infected. In general 0.3 to 2% of those infected end up dying. during the last two years
many variants of SARS-CoV-2 have emerged and, overall, they cause a very similar Covid, with the same fatality and hospitalization rates. What changes from one variant to the other seems to be the ease with which they settle on the body and therefore the speed with which
spread across the planet. Perhaps the Omicron variant causes milder disease, but this is not yet proven. That first Covid will continue to exist among unvaccinated people.
What will matter from 2022 on is the Covid of the vaccinated. This is a disease that affects humans who have already been vaccinated. The Covid of the vaccinated is the disease that we will have to live with in the coming decades. In that case SARS-CoV-2 will find human beings whose immune system
is already prepared to fight it. People will be vaccinated with one, two or three doses of different immunizers, some better than others, but all capable of preparing the body for battle. For this reason, the Covid of the vaccinated is a much less serious disease
than Covid. We already know that part of the vaccinated people becomes totally resistant to the virus, in them the virus is immediately repelled. The fraction of vaccinated fully resistant to the virus probably depends on the age of the person, the vaccine used, the number of doses and frequency.
with which the person took booster doses. That’s why the vaccination system has to include children and booster doses have to be given. When the virus manages to install itself in vaccinated people, in most cases Covid has few symptoms, lasts for a short time and rarely leads to hospitalization. Of course, deaths still occur in people afflicted with Covid of the vaccinated, but the numbers are much, much smaller. Although we do not know for sure, it is likely that the lethality of SARS-CoV-2 variants among those vaccinated is similar to that observed among people infected with influenza viruses. In addition to the protection offered by vaccines, pills are coming onto the market, which when taken early in the infection, further decrease the likelihood of the patient being hospitalized.
The huge number of new infections has us terrified, but as data from South Africa shows, this number is not accompanied by a proportional number of hospitalizations and deaths. Of course, this can stress health systems, but this should decrease as vaccination progresses.
Everything indicates that the new versions of the vaccines, the periodic revaccination of the population, and the new drugs should transform the Covid of those vaccinated into yet another respiratory disease that will affect a huge number of people every year. But without major consequences for
most of us. And so, at least for those vaccinated, Covid will become another one of those respiratory diseases that spoil our vacations and weekends.
*HE IS BIOLOGIST, PHD IN CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY FROM CORNELL UNIVERSITY AND AUTHOR OF THE ARRIVAL OF NOVO CORONAVÍRUS IN BRAZIL; LOTUS LEAF, MOSQUITO SLIDER; AND THE LONG MARCH OF CANNIBAL GRILOS