Over the decades, pandemics have evolved and lasted for varying periods of time, but always conclude with the containment and/or elimination of a virus. It is likely that history will repeat itself and a vaccine will eventually emerge to combat the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), thus alleviating the threat of further immediate contamination.
While modern science has not developed methods to stop a virus outbreak before it starts, advancements in medical technology over the past 17 years have drastically reduced the time it takes to develop and implement a vaccine after a new virus emerges.
The current COVID-19 outbreak was preceded by two recent outbreaks since 2003, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). SARs originated in China in 2002, spread worldwide and was contained within a few months. The World Health Organization (WHO) tracks deaths related to pandemics globally. The organization found that the SARs virus resulted in 774 deaths in 17 countries. MERs, also known as the camel flu, resulted in 862 deaths.
Joint efforts among international governments and nonprofit research entities have allowed extended research on emerging infectious diseases worldwide. Several groups and scientists from various countries are already underway developing a vaccine for COVID-19. The unprecedented combination of COVID-19’s fatality rate and its ease of spread means a much greater level of damage than outbreaks in recent memory, but it is all but certain this pandemic too will eventually be contained or eliminated.
Sources: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, WHO