Coronavirus could become seasonal: Top US scientist
New Delhi, Mar 26: As COVID-19 circles the globe, a senior US scientist has warned that there is a strong chance the new coronavirus could return in seasonal cycles. The scientist has highlighted the urgent need to find a vaccine and effective treatments.
"What we're starting to see now... in southern Africa and in the southern hemisphere countries, is that we're having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season," Anthony Fauci, who leads research into infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told a briefing.
"What we're starting to see now... in southern Africa and in the southern hemisphere countries, is that we're having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season," AFP reports quoting Fauci.
"And if, in fact, they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we need to be prepared that we'll get a cycle around the second time.
"It totally emphasizes the need to do what we're doing in developing a vaccine, testing it quickly and trying to get it ready so that we'll have a vaccine available for that next cycle."
"I know we'll be successful in putting this down now, but we really need to be prepared for another cycle," Fauci concluded.
There are currently two vaccines that have entered human trials -- one in the US and one in China -- and they could be a year to a year-and-a-half away from deployment.
As there are currently no vaccine for coronavirus, researchers are testing if drugs used to treat some viral infections can also fight COVID-19.
Researchers have started using malaria pills - chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine - for treating people infected with new coronavirus.
The highly contagious COVID-19 respiratory illness has killed more than 20,000 people worldwide and more than three billion people around the globe were living under lockdown on Wednesday as governments stepped up their efforts against the coronavirus pandemic.