This evidence synthesis has been compiled by members of the CITF Secretariat and does not necessarily represent the views of all CITF members.

By: Alexis K. Palmer-Fluevog

How will the global population continue to interact with the virus in the long-term? Articles in Nature and the Journal of the American Medical Association offer several scenarios, ranging from the complete eradication of the virus to the potential for ongoing severe infections, and to the evolution of the virus, among others. While the pandemic ‘endgame’ may be hard to predict, scientists have begun to outline a roadmap for moving forward; these include the development of certain tools and the need to address certain salient issues in order to be successful.

In an article published in Nature, Dr. Telenti and colleagues offer a look into the future based on lessons learned from previous and similar epidemics. They offer three potential scenarios: ongoing severe infections and potential evolution of the virus; transition to an epidemic seasonal disease; and transition to an endemic disease with low disease impact. The authors present a roadmap for moving forward, complete with necessary tools that need to be developed in order to be successful.

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In a Viewpoint piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Kofman and colleagues offer four potential scenarios for the future of COVID-19: Eradication, Elimination, Cohabitation, and Conflagration. The authors caution that the potential scenarios are dependent on the ever-changing dynamics of the virus itself as well as human behaviours such as vaccine hesitancy, as well as structural issues such as access to vaccines.

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Telenti, A., Arvin, A., Corey, L., Corti, D., Diamond, M.S., García-Sastre, A., Garry, R.F., Holmes, E.C., Pang, P., Virgin, H.W., 2021. After the pandemic: perspectives on the future trajectory of COVID-19. Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03792-w

Kofman, A., Kantor, R., Adashi, E.Y., 2021. Potential COVID-19 Endgame Scenarios. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.11042