For a truly new variant, it would need “some kind of revolution, through renewed massive distribution somewhere in the world where it’s still possible now. That’s how it was with the previous variants that started global waves.” In this regard, his current concern applies to China: “I would not rule out that another leap will happen there in terms of evolution. But I don’t expect it in the near future.” But it could just as well be “that nothing happens at all anymore.” Then the virus becomes endemic in the current serotype, “migrates back and forth between the hemispheres in winter and becomes quite tame.”
The risk of infection then becomes smaller and smaller: “The virus will probably remain with the current serotype for the time being – and we will have long-lasting protection. Adults will then become infected much less frequently.” Data from Qatar show that a survived infection protects against a new infection with the same serotype for almost a year and a half and for at least six or seven months with a different serotype, says Drosten.
With endemic viruses, you get infected for the first time in childhood, “the immune reaction is different there. Soon that will also apply to SARS-CoV-2.”