"While these efforts continue, we are working with authorized test developers and reviewing incoming data to ensure that health care providers and clinical staff can quickly and accurately diagnose patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, including those with emerging genetic variants".
"The timing of how long it takes to get to this sort of endemic state depends on how quickly the disease is spreading, and how quickly vaccination is rolled out", said Jennie Lavine, the postdoctoral fellow at Emory University in Atlanta who led the study told the New York Times.
"Our analysis of immunological and epidemiological data on endemic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) shows that infection-blocking immunity wanes rapidly, but disease-reducing immunity is long-lived", the abstract reads.
Researchers further revealed that SARS-CoV-2 enters lung cells by binding to a protein called ACE2, but whether this protein is present on the surface of brain cells is unclear.
The four common cold-causing coronaviruses have been circulating in humans for a long time and nearly everyone is infected at a young age - younger than measles before a vaccine was available.
To see whether the coronavirus can infect neurons or other types of brain cells, the researchers analysed the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to invade human brain organoids, miniature three-dimensional (3D) organs grown in the lab from human stem cells.
According to the model, a virus's infection fatality ratio is mostly dependent on how severe childhood infections are, and a coronavirus that with the morality of MERS infections but with the endemic pattern of COVID-19 could only by curbed with mass childhood vaccinations.
Millions of Americans are on their way to getting vaccinated for the virus, as well as many more people around the world.
"Overall, we're asking: How does SARS-CoV-2 compare to other viruses such as seasonal influenza or respiratory syncytial virus?" she says.
The research suggests that endemic SARS-CoV-2 may become a disease of early childhood, where the first infection occurs between 3 and 5 years old, and the disease itself would be mild. "Future work should consider mitochondrial biology as a primary intervention target for SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses", said senior author Pinchas Cohen, MD, professor of gerontology, medicine and biological sciences and dean of the USC Leonard Davis School, in a press release.
Another implication is that during the transition to endemicity, using symptoms only as a surveillance tool to look for infections and curb the virus' spread will become more hard. There are exceptions on the individual level, with some experiencing rare complications such as MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children).
The research was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (U01AI150747, U01AI144616) and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (U01HL139483).