Top officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wrote Monday that, going forward, Americans will have to accept COVID-19 as another respiratory virus like influenza.
FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, Principal Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock and the agency’s top vaccine official, Dr. Peter Marks, wrote that COVID-19 will be in circulation for the foreseeable future and must be accepted as another common virus in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Like with influenza, this new reality will likely require annual COVID-19 shots to be tailored around the most threatening strains of the virus, the officials wrote.
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“Widespread vaccine- and infection-induced immunity, combined with the availability of effective therapeutics, could blunt the effects of future outbreaks. Nonetheless, it is time to accept that the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is the new normal,” the officials wrote. “It will likely circulate globally for the foreseeable future, taking its place alongside other common respiratory viruses such as influenza. And it likely will require similar annual consideration for vaccine composition updates in consultation with the [FDA].” (RELATED: Americans Agree — COVID Is Over)
In the earliest days of the pandemic, some elected officials and commentators attempted to equate COVID-19 to the flu, but the coronavirus pandemic turned out to be far deadlier, killing nearly one million Americans. However, since vaccines for the virus became widely available last year, the threat of mortality from COVID-19 has trended closer to seasonal influenza, although the former has been far more contagious.