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Covid virus will be with us ‘for generations’, experts say



Despite the availability of vaccines, Covid will remain a threat to life for generations, according to medical experts.

and dr. Angelique Coetzee of the SA Medical Association has warned people not to be wary during the relatively quiet period – compared to previous harsh lockdowns – and warned of a possibility of a fifth wave in the winter.

“We expect our next wave around May to June. If the cycle is broken, we may see another variant this year — hopefully not a delta, which led to health workers being burned out by an influx of patients.

“People need to become more vigilant when a fifth wave comes,” says Coetzee.

GP Dr Karen van Kets said the future of Covid was unpredictable, “depending on how and where the virus mutates”. “Maybe we’re lucky and have something less virulent, but very transferable,” says Van Kets.

“We can also have something as terrible as delta that affects the lungs of so many people. “It’s that unpredictability that makes me always respect Covid. I don’t think this will be untamed in our generation,” she said.

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“It’s going to be more generations before it becomes insignificant — just like the flu virus that’s been here for hundreds of years.”

dr. Vidya Lalloo, emergency physician at Steve Biko Academic Hospital, said there was no way to predict the future.

“The optimist in me says that all subsequent mutations should be less virulent, but more contagious or transmissible,” Lalloo said.

“My hope is that eventually it will evolve into a different form of cold or flu.

“As with the flu, I suspect that our health professionals and vulnerable populations will need seasonal vaccinations to prevent serious damage.”

Lalloo, who has treated her patients in the treatment of the virus, said her experience during the first few variants was “heartbreaking and humbling.”

“Watching young patients die, having patients come home late, when a simple resource like oxygen could have pulled them through.

“I have also seen people survive Covid but succumb to the post-Covid complications,” Lalloo said.

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“I have also seen the pain of relatives when we informed them that their loved ones could not make it – devastating. But when ommicron emerged, so did hope.

“We started to need less oxygen, fewer ventilators and less intensive nursing.”

Lalloo said there were a number of patients with other conditions such as appendicitis or kidney stones, but with Covid the conditions became serious.

“When the death rate dropped, we all breathed a sigh of relief.”

Lalloo described the experience of health professionals during intense Covid spread as “a rollercoaster of emotions”, Lalloo said: “Many of us face fatigue and burnout.

The thought that there might be another wave just around the corner is too much to contemplate. “But we are survivors and each of us can be proud of our contribution.”

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