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Vaccinated or Not, Will Everyone Get COVID-19 at One Point?

The highly transmissible delta variant now accounts for 98 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and in some rare cases even those who are fully vaccinated are contracting the strain.

(TNS) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) recently issued updated guidance on masking indoors in public spaces in areas of high transmission for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The move came after the CDC uncovered new data about the Delta variant, one of the most transmissible strains of the coronavirus, that suggested even fully vaccinated individuals who catch COVID-19 can still pass along the virus to others.

The Delta variant is now responsible for over 98 percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

All of these recent discoveries by the CDC lead to one question: Can COVID-19 be contained before it spreads to nearly everyone in the world?

Is COVID-19 Here to Stay?

Researchers with the World Health Organization (WHO) leading the fight against the pandemic effort said late last year that vaccines alone would not defeat COVID-19 for good.

In a survey of more than 100 health researchers working on the coronavirus in February, nearly 90 percent agreed that COVID-19 would become an “endemic” disease, meaning that the disease spread is consistently present and localized to a particular area.

Since then, more scientists have made their beliefs public about COVID-19 becoming a regular cause of human disease, such as infections like the common cold and influenza viruses.

“We’re transitioning from this being a pandemic to being more of an endemic virus, at least here in the United States and probably other Western markets,” Scott Gottlieb, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA), said last week.

Will Everyone Get COVID at Some Point?

The answer is not quite as simple as saying yes or no.

Health experts agree that the Delta variant has been a game-changer this summer, but it’s still not known what that means for the long-term future of COVID.

Andy Slavitt, the former White House Senior Advisor for COVID Response, recently posted a detailed thread on Twitter that addressed the question of whether everyone will get the virus at some point.

“Given Delta’s contagiousness & the fitness of future mutations in order to beat it, this means SARS-CoV-2 will be contagious enough that everyone will get the virus,” Slavitt wrote as part of the thread. “The aim is simply that more people get it be vaccinated when they do so fewer get COVID.”

But not everyone agreed with Slavitt’s take on the subject. Dr. Ellie Murray, an epidemiology professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, said in a tweet Slavitt’s commentary was “such a dangerous take.”

“Just because a virus is highly contagious does NOT mean ‘everyone will eventually get the virus,’” Murray tweeted. “We have public health tools that work against COVID.”

Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota told The New Republic “you can’t run out the game clock here.”

“If you think, ‘I haven’t gotten it yet, I’ll just wait another six months and this whole thing will be over with, I don’t have to get vaccinated’ — this virus will eventually find you,” Osterholm said. “It will find you.”

Dr. Sandra Adams, a professor of biology and virologist at Montclair State University, had a more nuanced take on the subject.

“There is a distinction between infection and COVID disease. It is possible that all of the unvaccinated will eventually get COVID disease because of the increased infectious rate of the Delta variant,” Adams said.

“Vaccinated individuals may become infected with one of the variants. This scenario (unvaccinated getting COVID and vaccinated becoming infected) is the more dangerous route to the majority of the population obtaining antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and its variants,” Adams added.

If COVID-19 is Here to Stay, Will Vaccines Make It Manageable?

It seems that COVID-19 is staying put, but living with the virus does not mean letting the virus spread uncontrolled.

High vaccination rates may not prevent the spread of COVID-19 altogether, but they will still control the spread of the virus and its variants.

This will lead to fewer cases in the community, and that control will buy the world time in getting more people vaccinated in the event that more deadly strains crop up.

“The vaccines don’t work like sunscreen, stopping the virus from entering your body,” Slavitt wrote. “They fight for our cells. What they do is train our immune system to recognize the virus, attack it, & fight it to a state where it minimizes damage.”

Right now, more than 32 percent of the world has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and over 24 percent is fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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