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Doctors warn of new COVID-19 risks in 2024: What we know

Doctors warn of new COVID-19 risks in 2024: What we know Doctors give predictions on COVID-19 in 2024 (Photo: Getty Images)

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has already ended, people continue to contract the infection worldwide, albeit on a significantly smaller scale. Doctors warn that the virus will not disappear in 2024, and humanity needs to be prepared for new variants, reports AARP.

New variants will emerge In the initial years of the coronavirus epidemic, variants such as Alpha, then Beta, followed by Delta and Omicron were prevalent. Now, there are so many variations of the infection that Latin alphabet letters are insufficient for their designation, leading to the addition of numerical identifiers.

"The only constant in this whole thing really is continuous change. So people should expect that the virus will continue to evolve," says Dr.Ziyad Al-Aly, a researcher on COVID-19.

The doctor notes that virus mutations occur constantly, prompting adjustments to vaccines when new variants emerge.

"The worry that I have is if they evolve in a different direction and the current vaccines become obsolete, then we have to design new ones, or our current vital antivirals become obsolete and we have to design a new one," warns Al-Aly.

Doctors emphasize that the more the virus circulates in the population, the more opportunities it has to mutate.

"If we are protecting ourselves and others from COVID-19, we are helping prevent new variants come popping up," says public health expert Jodie Guest.

COVID-19 circulation will remain unpredictable

Unlike the flu or respiratory syncytial virus, which have seasonal patterns, COVID-19 is less predictable.

The coronavirus does not adhere to a specific season, circulating in both winter and summer. According to infectious diseases expert Robert Murphy, this unpredictability makes COVID-19 challenging for public health strategies and hospital preparedness.

If it becomes a fall-winter virus, it will simplify vaccination and public information strategies.

New vaccines will need to be developed

Considering the variable nature of the virus, it is highly likely that next year, the COVID-19 vaccine will be updated to address new spreading versions, similar to the annual updates for flu vaccines. This assertion comes from Dr. Rachel Presti.

Pharmaceutical companies are already testing a combined vaccine that helps protect against both the flu and the coronavirus. Preliminary trial results have been positive, and the research is now in the third phase.

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