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Curious Children: how does a virus cease?

How does a virus cease? — Angela Gaganis, 12 months 1, Adelaide

There’s a scene within the film “Wreck It Ralph” the place Sergeant Calhoun describes a number of the dangerous guys, known as “Cy-Bugs”.

Calhoun says “Cy-Bugs are like a virus… All they know is eat, kill, multiply”. She goes on to say “viruses don’t cease!”

Nicely, do they? It’s an important query, Angela.

It may be complicated when some folks, just like the president of the US, say this new COVID virus will go away by itself.

The brief reply is that whereas some viruses regularly disappear, most viruses don’t simply “go away”.

Viruses are literally actually intelligent at discovering methods to cover, simply ready for a chance to come back again.

Some viruses do disappear

You may already know that some viruses give us the flu. You won’t know that each flu virus that contaminated people till about 120 years in the past has now disappeared (or “gone extinct”, as scientists say). Another more moderen ones have disappeared too.

As an example, the virus that precipitated a horrible flu outbreak in 1957, which killed about 100,000 folks in the US, has now disappeared.

Army workers wearing masks in Seattle, USA, 1918
The ‘Spanish flu’ has primarily disappeared. However COVID will in all probability be with us for a very long time.

A virus that precipitated a horrible illness known as “Spanish flu” is one other good instance. Again in 1918, this virus precipitated a worldwide illness outbreak (a pandemic) and many folks sadly died. The virus continued to pop up in some locations till 1921.

However by then, plenty of folks have been resistant to it, as a result of their our bodies had realized tips on how to battle it off. This meant it didn’t stick with it spreading like a pandemic, however as an alternative simply popped up right here and there.

Due to this, the pressure that precipitated the pandemic primarily disappeared.

So can we eliminate the COVID virus too?

Generally we attempt to make a virus go extinct on goal. We usually use vaccines (typically known as “needles” or “jabs”) to do this. A vaccine helped us eliminate a virus known as smallpox, which was once one of many world’s scariest ailments.

Vaccines are additionally hopefully going to eliminate viruses known as polio and measles.

Scientists try as exhausting as they will to make a COVID vaccine. In truth we would find yourself with multiple sort of vaccine to battle the COVID virus.

If we do get them, they may assist so much however won’t cease the virus fully. This implies some folks would nonetheless get contaminated, though nowhere close to as many individuals as earlier than.

Learn extra:
The unique Sars virus disappeared – this is why coronavirus gained’t do the identical

The state of affairs is a bit much like one other new illness, known as swine flu, which appeared about 11 years in the past. It was completely different from different flu strains, so it unfold so much and have become a pandemic. The identical factor has occurred now with COVID.

About one particular person in each ten folks on the earth caught the swine flu virus earlier than scientists may make a vaccine.

After a 12 months, the vaccine had arrived and fewer and fewer folks have been getting swine flu. The swine flu virus didn’t disappear — it was nonetheless hiding out able to infect folks. However as a result of we had a vaccine, not as many individuals obtained sick.

How and when will COVID finish?

SARS is a virus much like COVID. It was recognized in 2003 and contaminated greater than 8,000 folks. However since 2004, it has not been seen once more in people.

We removed it by doing a combination of various issues. This included isolation and quarantine, which you may know as “iso”.

We’re utilizing comparable measures to battle COVID. So why did they work to cease SARS, however haven’t removed COVID but?

One large downside is that COVID can unfold with out somebody even feeling in poor health. This implies you may cross it on even if you happen to don’t have a cough or a runny nostril.

Because of this, some scientists say we are going to by no means have the ability to make the COVID virus go away fully.

As an alternative, it can in all probability develop into a illness that makes some folks sick yearly, just like the flu. It should nearly definitely be with us for a very long time, even after the pandemic is over.

Good day, curious youngsters! Do you’ve got a query you’d like an skilled to reply? Ask an grownup to ship your query to

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