The COVID-19 pandemic is waning, but the new coronavirus is unlikely to go away

By Stephanie Innes and Alison Steinbach | Arizona Republic

While the COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona could end by summer, the new coronavirus is likely here to stay.

The future of COVID-19 depends on the continued vaccination effort and how successful the world, nation and state are at immunizing masses of people before the virus continues to evolve into more infectious versions.

COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness and death, but they are not 100% in terms of preventing infection from the new coronavirus. Also, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 could continue to mutate and necessitate new versions of the vaccine on a regular basis, similar to the influenza vaccine.

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Some vaccines, such as for measles, are effective for decades. Others wear off or need to be adjusted annually for mutations. The COVID-19 vaccine’s timeline is still being studied.

Hospital leaders also say they expect to see patients with lingering health problems from COVID-19 in months and years ahead.

“I think we will continue to see COVID. … We know even when people take flu shots, we still see flu. So I anticipate we’re still going to see some of this,” said Linda Hunt, CEO of Dignity Health in Arizona.

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