Report explains why the theory that COVID-19 will ‘just go away' is ‘wishful thinking’: report

Report explains why the theory that COVID-19 will ‘just go away' is ‘wishful thinking’: report

An optimistic theory about COVID-19 is that it will “self-mutate” into something harmless or experience “self-extinction.” Journalist David Axe examines that theory in an article published by the Daily Beast this week, explaining why it is probably “wishful thinking” and too good to be true.

“A fringe theory — that the novel coronavirus can mutate into a harmless new form — seems to have given some people false hope that the pandemic, now entering its third year, might end all on its own, regardless of what government officials, scientists, and everyday people do,” Axe explains. “This COVID ‘self-extinction’ theory isn’t new. It got some traction in the media in the spring under slightly different terminology.”

But according to medical and science experts interviewed by the Daily Beast, Axe adds, that theory is “probably wrong.”

“It’s tempting to believe SARS-CoV-2 will just go away,” Axe writes. “Without expensive, politically fraught efforts to vaccinate everyone. Without unpopular mask mandates and restrictions on schools and businesses. Without anyone sacrificing anything in the interest of public health. But that’s most likely wishful thinking — and potentially dangerous if enough people indulge in it. Beating COVID probably means fighting it with every tool in our kit. Because, let’s be honest, it’s not looking like it’s going to beat itself.”

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Jesse Bloom of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Washington State told the Beast that where COVID-19 is concerned, “self-extinction is vanishingly unlikely.” And Tanaka Mikihito, a pandemics expert at Waseda University in Tokyo, told the Beast, “I know some experts are saying such a ‘self-extinction’ thing, but I will not bet on it.”

Nor is Lawrence Gostin, a global health expert at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., optimistic about the chances of COVID-19 experiencing “self-extinction.”

Gostin told the Beast, “I have never seen one that is widespread and just goes away. I can’t think of a single example of that ranging from novel influenza to smallpox, polio and childhood diseases. Viruses don’t just go extinct.”

Axe concludes his article by emphasizing that because COVID-19 is unlikely to “just go away,” the only smart thing to do is find effective ways to combat it — such as widespread vaccination.

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“It’s probably a bad idea to sit around waiting for the pandemic to end itself,” Axe writes. “The smarter approach is the one we’ve taken all along: Urge people to wear masks, avoid crowds and — most importantly — get vaccinated and boosted.”

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